Iowa City Flooding Update

People have been seriously sandbagging since last Thursday. The latest predictions are for levels above 1993. The spillway will be topped as soon as tonight, with the reservoir and river levels expected to keep rising despite the overflow. More rain is forecast. The arts campus (Hancher, the old art building, the museum) has got a fight on its hands. Riverside Shakespeare, after conducting rehearsals with water to the park drive and a loud chorus of bullfrogs drowning "A Comedy of Errors,' has had to retreat to City High. The lowest-lying areas are evacuated, and the next floor up, such as Mosquito Flats and the animal shelter, could be in for several weeks of canoeing. The water supply is said to be safe.

Somehow this has snuck up on everyone, and some peope are asking why, with high snowfall and strong spring rains, the reservoir run-off wasn't better managed. The answer (to prevent flooding way downstream along the Mississippi) won't be much consolation to those hit hard.


Grendel said...

Meanwhile much of the Iowa National Guard's personnel and equipment is in Iraq.

Trevor Jackson said...

The Iowa Independent has got some pictures up here.

SER said...

I was thinking of doing some volunteer sandbagging today. Does anyone know whom to call about that?

HGF said...

The latest university announcement calls for volunteers at Clapp Recital Hall beginning Tuesday at 8:30am. "People are encouraged to come dressed appropriately with boots and gloves." The city as of last night and this morning (hotline: 887-6202) was calling for volunteers at several areas: Idyllwild Condos; Parkview Church, both near 15 Foster Rd.; (take I-80 exit 244- open to Foster Rd.); Thatcher & Baculis Mobile Home Parks at 2254 S. Riverside Dr.; commercial area of S. Gilbert so. of Hwy. 6; 111 Stevens Dr.; Commercial Dr. area. Also at the Dog Park (same route as to church above) to help sandbag City wells. "Bring gloves and shovel if you have them." You might also take a ball of string and a pocket knife (one shipment of bags I saw this weekend had no ties) and extra sunscreen. Red Cross has been providing sandwiches and water.

Trevor Jackson said...

More and better pictures of rising (still rising!) water on campus here.

More rain today and tomorrow.

SER said...

I went to Clapp yesterday and tied up lots of sandbags. It was fun. It also made me glad I have a college degree and don't normally work on an assembly line.

Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny day, and it was both peaceful and eerie to be walking over to Clapp as the high waters whooshed beneath the pedestrian bridge and along the sidewalk on the west side of campus.

They're at Clapp again today all day for anyone who's interested. There was free water, sandwiches, sodas, donuts, etc. for sustenance. Someone had supplied work gloves, and plenty of people brought sunscreen to share.

The P-C has lots of DIRE HEADLINES in LARGE FONT if you want to check out the latest details and photos.

HGF said...

A wonderful image from the Gazette, which ensures that every future Hawkeye homegame will seem like a splash fight in a bathtub:

"The gates are wide open," lake operations manager John Castle said about the Coralville Dam spillway. That is kicking out some 20,000 cubic feet of water, while the lake was taking 21,800 cubic feet per second.

For perspective, water rushing at 20,000 cubic feet per second would fill Kinnick Stadium in 16 minutes and 42 seconds if the stadium's corners were enclosed, said Kevin Monson, president of Neumann Monson Architects, which led the recent Kinnick renovation project.

Trevor Jackson said...

HGF: That's terrific. The numbers do nothing without context. Nearly four Kinnicks worth of water every hour.

SER said...

Lots of buildings are ordered closed as of tomorrow:

--Art Building West
--Art Building East
--Art Museum
--English and Philosophy Building
--Hancher Auditorium
--Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratory
--Iowa Memorial Union
--Main Library
--North Hall
--Stanley Hydraulics
--Theater Building

cj said...

Craziness. Parts of I-80 near West Branch are now closed. I'm glad I don't live on that detour route.

Yesterday I took my kids to the archipelago formerly known as City Park -- you can still drive in to Upper City Park, then walk down the slope to what's left of Lower City Park. The tennis courts and baseball fields are all under water; a few playground areas are still above ground. I just read in the P-C that they're expecting the river level in Iowa City to rise another five feet by Tuesday.

I also read that much of Eastern Iowa is going to lose high-speed internet service soon, because of flooding at Qwest in Cedar Rapids.

cj said...

The Army Corps of Engineers is now estimating that the outflow from the Coralville reservoir will be 40,000 CFS by Tuesday. (Don't ask me what a CFS is.) In 1993, the peak was 27,000 CFS. They're estimating that the First Avenue/Highway 6 intersection in Coralville will be four feet under water by then.

SER said...

Yeah, TONS of road closures now. Someone just told me I-80 west of here is closed, and then I-80 east of here is closing soon. And I-380 is closed but it's unclear whether that's just to let emergency crews through for some reason. So many bridges and roads are closed here now that there's quite a bit of traffic.

The town of Hills expects to be underwater and is desperately asking for sandbaggers. The UI has laid 1 million sandbags but needs to do more. I'm heading to the IMU soon.

As an aside, when I was sandbagging the other day, I noticed TONS of staff and no faculty (from my college here). Come on, faculty.

Trevor Jackson said...

CFS = cubic feet per second. Double yesterday's release estimates; i.e., 8 Kinnicks an hour of water moving through.

The P-C reports that a railroad bridge in Cedar Rapids collapsed with eight cars on it. About 30 miles of I-80 will be closed by tomorrow morning. 380 is part of the detour route. Looks like they're directing interstate traffic to Hwy 30 through Mount Vernon.

SER said...

I just saw on the TV news (which is going with wall-to-wall coverage today) that they expect the Iowa River between the dam and Burlington St. to crest at 38 feet for a period of time, which is a solid 9 feet above 1993.

The sandbagging operation at the IMU today was a highly refined operation. They were raising the height of the levees on campus by a foot or two, it appeared.

Brando said...

Wow, just crazy stuff. Stay safe, you guys.

I also expect the president to declare a War on Weather any day now.

Trevor Jackson said...

LOL, Brando. The few undeployed National Guard units should begin preparing for the invasion of Mars.

Grendel said...

Got an email from a former neighbor:

There be shit. And it be hittin' the fan. Tomorrow there will be no bridges open connecting east and west Iowa City. There is talk that the Burlington Street Bridge is going to go. If you don't remember it is two bridges with three lanes going each way. Our friend that works for the DOT (and was evacuated with 30 minutes to grab and go) said they are going to drill holes in the bridge to relieve pressure. There is a bar/restaurant north of here in what I am not sure is even a town, called Sutliffe. There is a historic bridge that is blocked off and you can have drinks and food out over the river. A cabin hit the bridge and then two large logs and took half of it. In order to go to Des Moines you need to go to Tipton, north to Waterloo, down to Marshalltown and over. Seriously. Part of I-380 is closed and I-80 is closed east of here and should be closed west by tomorrow. 1993 was a pussy compared to this.

Trevor Jackson said...

Your neighbor is right for the most part. Especially about Sutliffe Bridge, which stood for over a hundred years.

The bridge in danger is the Park Road bridge running up to Hancher and City Park. That's the bridge that had holes drilled to reduce the air pressure underneath that was making it lighter. The way the Burlington bridge is constructed, it's not in as much danger as Park Road brige. (Now if that bridge does go, who knows what kind of damage it could do downstream.)

Burlington is still open as of Saturday afternoon. As is Benton St bridge. For now. Some rain in the forecast tonight and tomorrow, but shouldn't have much impact.

When the official story is told, it's likely that we'll all talk about how much time IC had to prepare in comparison to CF/W'loo/CR as being the decisive factor. Bagging has been going on for over a week. Of course, that's Iowa City.

Coralville is not faring so well. The strip from Rocky Shore to at least 4th Avenue (and businesses on both sides) is under about two to four feet of water.

Check the P-C site for more on that. Pictures you won't believe.

HGF said...

This announcement went out yesterday on the Cinema and Comp Lit listserve:

You might wish to see the new blog spot dedicated to "literary" responses to the flood: Iowa City proves itself to be, well, Iowa City after all.

The slide show by Eric Dean of the flooding of the arts campus is especially amazing if (like me) you haven't been able to see that part of campus directly.