Sandbags and sand barriers are being filled and placed along swelling waterways in several Iowa towns, as flood warnings are posted in all corners of the state. In New Hartford, the 500 residents are being warned to prepare to evacuate. Mitch Nordmeyer, emergency management director for Butler County, says a key road three miles west of New Hartford is going under as Beaver Creek floods.
“It’s a county gravel road that kind of acts as a dike and water has started to flow over there and eventually has started to cut out part of the gravel road,” Nordmeyer says. “Our big concern is if it washes out completely.” Nordmeyer says if the levee fails, residents will have just 90 minutes to grab their belongings and get to safety.
The town was swallowed by floodwaters five years ago. Nordmeyer says, “Everybody remembers what it was like in 2008 and there are very few houses that with a big movement of water through here, there’s very few homes that are unaffected.”
That flood five years ago forced New Hartford residents out of their homes for more than a week. In Iowa City, residents along the Iowa River are packing up their basements as they watch their backyards slowly slip underwater.
Guy Smith has lived in Iowa City’s Taft Speedway neighborhood for 50 years. He points to a tree that still has a mark from where the 2008 flood crested, almost exactly five years ago.
“I never ever dreamed that we’d be going through it again in five years, but here we are,” Smith says. “If I have to go through what I did in 2008, I’ll probably move out of here.”
In Iowa’s second-largest city, some Cedar Rapids residents in low-lying areas are being asked to voluntarily evacuate. For resident Melissa Smith, watching the Cedar River rise is all too familiar, as it took her and her family 13 months to rebuild their home in 2008.
“You’re kind of at a standstill, trying to figure out in your mind what’s really gonna’ go on,” Smith says. “Our neighbors and I were going to have a big party to celebrate we’ve been back in our homes and we’ve conquered the flood but I think we’re going to be doing other plans.”
The Cedar River is expected to crest tomorrow at just under 20 feet, nearly one week before the anniversary of the 2008 flood.