As flood waters inundated the city of Ames Wednesday, residents were asked to conserve water in their homes and businesses.  The flooding caused a water main break under Squaw Creek, and John Dunn of the City of Ames says that quickly drained one of the city’s water towers.

“With all this record flooding going, you know, obviously that makes it difficult to try to figure out what’s water that’s coming from a main break versus water that’s coming from the flooding,” Dunn says. 

Water pressure dropped to dangerous levels, so water was cut off until repairs can be made.  Dunn says the fix won’t be easy. “The values that isolate that river crossing are underwater which makes them difficult to find,” Dunn says. 

Ames residents have been told they may flush toilets and take showers if they have water in their homes, but city officials say the water may not be safe to drink for days, perhaps until next Tuesday.  Free drinking water — up to two gallons per person — will be distributed in five different parking lots around the city on Thursday. 

Thousands of Ames residents were awakened at five o’clock Wednesday morning by a “code red alert” from the city, warning of the potential for significant flooding throughout Ames.  The Skunk River in Ames is projected to crest at a level that’s above the historic flooding of 1993. 

Iowa State University officials have announced only “essential” employees will be on duty Thursday, with campus buildings closed.