Residents of Ames and Colfax are already dealing with record flooding with more rain on the way. The waters receded enough today for the reopening of Interstate 35 south of Ames, but the Skunk River and Squaw Creek remained well above flood stage. Ames Water Department Chief John Dunn, after checking with the National Weather Service, is worried about things going from bad to worse.
“The moisture is still there and they’re talking about the redevelopment of flooding rains,” Dunn said. Tap water isn’t drinkable in Ames because of a water main break which resulted in the need to flush out the system. City workers are struggling to locate and isolate even more water main breaks caused by saturated soil. Dunn says water pressure is limited, but Ames residents are not restricted from taking showers.
“Just keep ’em short…please, please, please,” Dunn said. City officials say Ames restaurants are following a voluntary order to shut down until fresh water’s restored. That may not happen until next week. On the Iowa State University campus, several buildings were flooded – including Hilton Coliseum.
I.S.U. spokesperson John McCarroll says students will move into dorms next week – even if fresh water hasn’t been restored. Freshman attending I.S.U. are scheduled to move in next Tuesday and Wednesday. Warning signs are posted on drinking fountains around the I.S.U. campus.
Downstream, in Colfax, Mayor David Mast is battling misinformation about his city’s water supply. “Rumors always fly in this kind of a situation and they’ve been saying that we’re going to be shutting the water off and that’s just a rumor. Our water system is high and dry and working fine…that’s not one of our problems,” Mast said. About 300 Colfax residents were forced out by Wednesday’s flooding. Some returned to their homes last night to sleep.
Robin Saylor says someone had to stick around to watch over his neighborhood. “I trudged through the water and stayed on the second floor,” Saylor said. “I’ve got some animals, some cats and stuff, so they were upstairs and I kind of want to keep an eye on them. Plus, we wanted to keep an eye on the whole area because a lot of time you’ve got looters running around in boats and they loot houses…that’s another thing you want to watch out for.”
The Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter at the High School in Colfax. While no one slept there last night, Saylor says it’s a relief to have a place to cool off and grab a meal.