Martyschmidt’s Weblog

A Joyful Journey

The Floods of 08 in Ottumwa June 12, 2008

Filed under: Ottumwa — martyschmidt @ 3:12 pm

My dad called yesterday wanting to know if he needed to send some life jackets our way. I asked him if Minnesota had a secret plan for another lake entitled Lake Iowa. The flooding around the state has been unbelievable and the next few days look are projected to be the worst for the Spring.

In Ottumwa, we are currently in the preparation mode. Sand bagging began yesterday and has continued today. One area of homes has been evacuated. The Market St. bridge has been closed as has Main St. City Crews and Volunteers have been hauling dirt all over town creating some kind of wall.

We are anticipating Sunday night and Monday to be our worst time. Below are some pictures from Thursday morning.

Usually there is only one of these open and water falls 10 feet. As you can see – there is no drop.

Market Street Bridge.

This picture was taken while standing on the Market St. Bridge. This is the backside of the Bridge View Center where we meet.


I just got the following information from the fire chief of Ottumwa.

The latest info this afternoon at the meeting (2PM) showed the river to be at 13.5 feet level – and a high is projected at 20.7 by Sunday (and continuing there until the 20th).  Chief O’Connor said, “Perhaps we’re in better shape than yesterday – the silver lining in the clouds is that a break occurred near Tracy, which means that gravel and sand pits and the flood plains are filling up with water – but that will only hold so much – we’ll still get plenty.”  The level in ’93 was 22.5 feet.
This is dependent on weather – and we are under a potential of 1 to 2 inches tonight – with hail and strong winds.
The expectation is that tomorrow 80,000 cfs (cubic feet/second) will be coming down thru Ottumwa; 90,000 on Saturday; and 100,000 from Sunday (the 15th) through the 20th.
At this time, city officials feel very confident that the last 7 years (and $650,000) improvements will hold the water.  AND the additional berm being built around the water plant is additional “insurance.”
(They have talked about “worse case senario” but don’t expect they will need it  – they have access to good water if needed and also should ahve several hours “warning” should the horrible happen.  Boats for rescue and emergency personnel will be stationed on both sides of the river.  The Emergency Command Operations Center is open 24/7 until further notice and is tied to the state office.
The levee has been closed to all walkers and bikers – it is being patrolled hourly – watching for leaks; “boils”; and/or break outs.
Main Street is closed to allow truck traffic – carrying sand and dirt – to the berm being built.  They expect that will be completed by tonight – midnightish.  They thenmove to other areas for building protection areas that will be pulled over the train tracks when needed – but for now, freight trains are still running.  They are trying to get as many trains as possible out of the area so as not to have them “stranded” in outlying areas and risk vandals; needing rescue for the crews; and/or getting the trains fuel.  They are starting to divert trains in Lincoln, NE and Pacific Junction.
The Red Cross Shelter is at the high school – park in the 1st Lutheran Church parking lot and use the 4th Street entrance.  Anyone is welcome to come that needs shelter – pets can be taken to the Heartland Humane Society.  Volunteers to work at the shelter are needed – call the United Way to schedule times to do this.  At this time they only have 5 in the shelter, but epect that number to increase tonight slightly and increasingly in the coming days.
Any downtown business – 3rd Street and below – has been told to put a sewer plug in their drains.
If private indivduals need sandbags – they can get them (free) from the Public Works Garage – one must provide their own sand.
There are several roads closed due to water over them –
call 211 for those roads or anyother info about Wapello County Flooding.  This is the Iowa Help Line and info is updated at least every six hours on it for the general public to call as needed.
Valley Village is now under a mandatory evacuation – mandoatory evacuatino means ‘you best leave’ – as utilities may be shut off; if you call 91 you may not get a quick response; and you’re on your own!  No one will be “forced” to leave; but thesea re conditions you need to know.
The railroad should be able to have at least 6 hours notice before they shut down freight trains.  The last California Zepher will come through Ottumwa tonight and service is suspended indefinitely.


One Response to “The Floods of 08 in Ottumwa”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    You guys & everyone in IA affected by these floods are in my prayers – I hope they’re right in the levees holding and hopefully rains will lessen more than anticipated.

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