The Ottumwa Courier

April 19, 2013

Rural motorists and students impacted by flood

By MARK NEWMAN Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA – The engineer predicted flooding could make it hard to see some roads. No one predicted one of those roads would disappear.

“Ninetieth Street is the worst,” said Brian Moore, Wapello County engineer, “and will be closed most of the summer until we figure out what we’re going to do.”

One part of 90th Street is essentially just a hole in the ground — the roadway was washed away.

“A couple of roads are washed out. The roads [used for crossing] Cedar Creek are under water. It’s not just the river, it’s flash flooding from all that rain, too,” Moore said Thursday morning before heading into a meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service.

And no, confirmed school leaders, it certainly is not just the river. The Wapello County area has experienced more rain in the past two days than it has in the previous four months. In Eldon, where much of the town could be considered river-view property, Cardinal school district saw flooding due to saturated ground, a lot of rain in a short period of time and a failing drain pipe.

“A drain pipe that was [either] jammed up or crushed somewhere along the line,” said Jake Munson, the Cardinal High School administrative manager, “was not allowing water to drain from the courtyard. It looked more like a pond than a courtyard [on Wednesday].”

The gymnasium, senior lounge and shop class started catching some of the overflow.

“We were getting an inch or two on [the floors],” said Munson. “We knew we needed help.”

They contacted the Eldon Fire Department, which brought volunteer firefighters with sump pumps. They worked Wednesday late into the night, still pumping out water through the early hours of Thursday morning. If they hadn’t, said the administrator, he questioned whether the district would have been able to have school.

“They really stepped up for us,” Munson said. “They really bailed us out.”

Other schools took notice, too.

A message from the Ottumwa school district early Thursday told parents, “There will be no school bus service for Valley Village trailer park today due to flooding.”

If flooded streets gave bus drivers Thursday a cause for concern at 8 a.m., when the Des Moines was at a 14.35-foot stage, they may feel downright worried today. Around lunchtime Thursday, it was at 15.5 feet. After talking to the Army Corps of Engineers, Moore said the Des Moines River was expected to crest Thursday night at 16.8 feet.

“It’ll start going back down (today),” Moore predicted. “Next week, though, Red Rock will open up a little bit. But we’re not [expected to reach] flood stage.”