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Reservoir peaks, flood-prevention efforts remain

BY MICHAEL KADRIE | JULY 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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Area flood-prevention efforts remain in effect as the Army Corps of Engineers continues to monitor the Coralville Reservoir water level and hopes for little rain upstream.

“We already have the areas protected that need protecting,” said Shannon McMahon, the supervisor of the Iowa City Communication Division.

The University of Iowa is on the same page. Its online updates were suspended as of Monday because the relative stability of the situation.

“We’re feeling comfortable that we’re in the clear in terms of flooding, but we’re still watching the weather,” said Stephen Pradarelli, the director of the UI News Services.

If there isn’t any more heavy rain upstream, the university expects to be able to reopen closed walkways and paths in the next 10 days.

The Reservoir hit its peak Tuesday at 708.2 feet, according to information from the Corp of Engineers.

Because of flooding, North Dubuque Street between Park Road and Foster Road remains impassable for the time being. 

Iowa City Public Works Director Rick Fosse estimates that if there is no additional rainfall that North Dubuque Street will reopen on July 18, once the Reservoir outflow falls below 9,000 cubic feet per second. 

Currently, outflow is steady at 18,000 cubic feet per second.

Last week, Gov. Terry Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for Johnson County in response to flooding and severe weather. Officials are now seeking a presidential disaster declaration for Johnson County.

The declaration would bring in extra money for public assistance, infrastructure repair, as well as reimbursement for flood-mitigation measures.

Iowa City, Coralville, Johnson County, Hills, and the UI spent more than $4 million to prevent flood damage last year.  The university spent more than $3 million.

University officials installed a 12-foot HESCO barrier around Mayflower, as well as a 4-foot HESCO barrier along the east and west banks of the Iowa River.

Officials no longer anticipate waters rising above the Reservoir’s emergency spillway (at 712 feet), but mandatory evacuations are still in place for several roads in Johnson County. These include Izaak Walton Road S.E., Camino Del Rio S.E., Driftwood Lane S.E., Ocean Boulevard S.E., River Front Estates N.E., 6979 and 6951 Tri County Bridge Road, Lola Lane S.E., Sand Road South of 560th Street to Highway 22, Winter Eagle Road S.E., River Bend Road S.E., Fountain Court S.E., Swan Lake Road N.E, Oak Crest Hill Rd., River Junction Rd., Sioux Ave S.E., 640th Street S.E., 660th Street S.E., and Eden Farm Road S.E.

Other closings in the area because of the flood include: Art Building West, Beckwith Boathouse, east and west sidewalks along the Iowa River, IMU south metered lot, Mayflower, and the Hancher footbridge.

Fosse warns area residents that while the rain may have stopped for now, they are not out of the woods yet.

“What we saw in 1993 was that there were a number of peaks in the level of the Reservoir,” Fosse said.

He stresses that Iowa City areas with temporary flood protection in place are still vulnerable to heavy local rainfall. With more comprehensive anti-flood measures unavailable, they would be dependent on the less-effective pump systems in their area.

Residents should continue to stay vigilant until the Reservoir’s water level has dropped considerably.

“Right now, a big storm, would be a very bad thing,” Fosse said.


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