The flooding in Charles City went from bad to worse this morning.
The town’s 7,800 residents are being told not to use water. Kossuth County Emergency Management Coordinator Dave Penton is in Charles City, helping with the disaster response.
“We had a pump failure at the wastewater plant, so we’re unable to pump that influx of wastewater into the plant and it backs up on us,” Penton said. It’s possible that every home in Charles City will have sewer backups in their basements.
“There’s a pretty good chance (that will happen),” Penton said. Although tap water in Charles City is safe for drinking and cooking, residents are being urged not to pour anything down the drain.
“Don’t wash laundry, don’t flush your stools, don’t use dishwashers…the more of that wastewater you can keep out of the system, the better off we will be,” Penton said. Charles City and other areas of flood county have received nearly a foot of rain since Wednesday. The Cedar River in Charles City is expected to crest at 21.8 feet at around midnight tonight (Friday). Just over two dozen homes have been evacuated. In neighboring Butler County, the Shell Rock River topped a levee in Clarksville, forcing the evacuation of a nursing home and officials say several homes in Clarksville are surrounded by water. There’s also major flooding in Waverly in Bremer County. The Red Cross has volunteers and emergency shelters set up in both Clarksville and Waverly.
Cedar Rapids prepares for new flood
Residents of Cedar Rapids are preparing for the flood waters to flow their way. City manager Jeff Pomerantz gave an update this morning and says the Cedar River is expected to crest Monday at 24 feet. That’s seven feet lower than in 2008 when flood waters devastated large portions of the city.
“We’re working around the clock and working tirelessly to protect our residents from property damage, as well as keeping everyone safe,” Pomerantz says. The city is providing free sandbags for residents.
He says sandbagging stations have been set up on 11th street and near Ellis Park. Volunteers are welcome to help with sandbagging and Pomerantz says volunteers are asked to bring shovels. More than 13-hundred houses and 385 commercial structures will be impacted by the floodwaters, but Pomerantz says the things they’ve learned from the past should help this time around.
“We’ve been planning for this kind of event — that you obviously hope will never happen — for a long time. So, we have the right plan in place,” Pomerantz says. Cedar Rapids fire chief Mike English says it appears that more residents are listening to the warnings this time and preparing their homes for possible flooding.
“In ’08 it was much less in advance, I am happy to say anecdotally we’re seeing many more people are taking that initiative now and moving instead of waiting,” English says.
The Cedar Rapids city council met after the morning news conference to pass a resolution declaring a state of emergency in the city.
Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson also contributed to this story.