The flooding Rock River in northwest Iowa is blamed for the derailment of a Burlington Northern Sante Fe freight train near the town of Doon along the Lyon/Sioux county border.
A total of 35 tanker rail cars carrying oil have left the tracks. Reports of some of the derailed tankers are leaking. The town of Rock Valley has been forced to evacuate. Mayor Kevin Van Otterloo has declared a state of emergency for the city of Rock Valley. In a release, Van Otterloo said “despite the best efforts of the 400 plus volunteers on Thursday evening, we were not able to hold the water back.”
Iowa Department of Transportation officials have closed Highway 60 northbound near Le Mars due to flood waters from the Floyd River that has crossed the highway. Le Mars Fire Chief David Schipper says the Floyd is already at “bank full.”
“The city is taking preparations with our wastewater treatment plant that sits on the north end of town to make sure we’re in a ready state for flooding,” Schipper says. The Floyd was last reported at 19-feet at Le Mars and it’s expected to crest tonight around 21.5 feet.
“I think that’s going to happen a lot sooner and I don’t know if that 21.5 number is going to stay or not,” the chief says. “I think there’s a lot more water from up north than what everybody, including the weather service, has anticipated here. I’m sure it will be out of the banks before too long.” Upriver, communities like Ashton and Alton were inundated by heavy rain showers over several days in the past week.
“I know they got five or six inches of rain yesterday on top of the five or six they had the day before,” Schipper says. “That’s all gotta’ filter down through here.” He repeats the warnings for motorists not to try driving across water-covered roads.
(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)