Flood efforts continue

BY KRISTEN BARON | JULY 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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After severe weather plagued eastern Iowa, University of Iowa officials are taking extra precautions on protecting several buildings.

On Tuesday, a 12-foot HESCO wall was installed around the Mayflower Residence Hall, and barriers will also be installed around Art Building West, as well as along the banks of the Iowa River throughout campus.

The predicted river flow should be around 15,000 cubic feet per second. The HESCO barrier around Mayflower should be able to withstand a rate of 25,000 cubic feet per second, said IIHR — Hydroscience and Enginerring Director Larry Weber.

“We can’t speculate on what the future may bring,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said. “The measures we have in place are effective.”

Cambus service to Mayflower has been discontinued until further notice.

Stephen Pradarelli, the director of University News Services, said the river is not quite at flood stage. (At 3 a.m. Tuesday, the river was 0.75 above flood stage, according to the Army Corps of Engineeers.)

With flood barriers going up around Mayflower, the northbound lanes of Dubuque Street will remain closed for the time being, Pradarelli said.

“The university is starting to mobilize crews to protect the most at-risk buildings,” Weber said, which includes much of the Arts Campus, the IMU, and Mayflower.

In addition, the southbound lane of Riverside Drive will be closed for the installation of a 12-foot high-prefabricated metal wall around Art Building West. The HESCO barriers being installed along the west and east sides of the Iowa River will be 4 feet high.

Although precautions are being taken in case of flooding, officials said all classes and programs, such as Iowa City Jazz Fest and fireworks launched from Hubbard Park, will continue as scheduled.

Johnson County Supervisor Chairman Terrence Neuzil and Emergency Management Coordinator Dave Wilson also signed a local disaster declaration on Tuesday morning. They also requested a state disaster declaration in order to receive state assistance.

The declaration will have to be approved by Gov. Terry Branstad, but in the meantime, the Board of Supervisors is set to spend emergency funds from every available source, according to a Johnson County Emergency Management release.

According to a Army Corps of Engineers press release, Trailwater West Campground is expect to close Thursday, as will the beaches on the Coralville Reservoir. West Overlook Day Use Area may also be closed Thursday.

The Reservoir’s spillway is 712 feet, and the water level is projected to be at 711.3 feet on July 11, the release said.

The Reservoir has been releasing water at a rate of 10,000 cubic feet per second, and the rate could go up to 13,000 cubic feet per second by today.

If it weren’t for the Reservoir, however, Iowa City would experience detrimental flooding and an extreme amount of damage, Weber said. Whether there will be damaging flooding, he couldn’t say for sure.

“It’s hard to forecast weather seven days, 10 days, or even two weeks out,” Weber said. “It’s even harder to forecast rainfall.”

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