The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

April 19, 2013

Rains wallop southeast Iowa

OTTUMWA — Everyone knew it was coming. And when the rains hit southeast Iowa, they hit hard.

Lee Asher, manager of the Wapello Rural Water Association, said Wednesday night's rainfall washed away 90th Street east of Izaak Walton League, taking out water pipes and leaving customers without water. A water main break also occurred 1 mile south of Ottumwa, resulting in a water boil advisory for residents on River Road, Miller Chapel Road, Rabbit Run Road, 60th Street and the surrounding areas.

He said he didn't know how many customers were without water as of Thursday morning and wouldn't know until the leaks were isolated.

"Right now, we're still in the process of trying to find it," he said. "We've had people out since way early [Thursday] morning trying to find it in the dark, which is hard to do."

The washout will close the road for most of the summer, according to county officials.

Jean Dell lives on the side of 90th Street where the water pipe was carried away in the rush of water.

"We're at the end of the line going east, so people at the top of the hill on 90th Street still have water because they pump to them from the other direction," Dell said.

The Dells have been without water since around 5 a.m. Thursday, she said.

Ottumwa Water and Hydro general manager Mike Heffernan said he's unaware of any problems with water lines in city limits.

Water and Hydro production manager Tim Albert recognized early on in the storm that the large box sewer in front of the water plant was getting full.

"So he contacted the city sewer department, and they turned on some of the pumps at Blakes Branch," Heffernan said. "When that didn't help, we got big diesel pumps in the Market Street Bridge parking lot to pump out the sewer. And it's a good thing he did, because I heard later on [Wednesday] evening part of Gateway Drive had some minor flooding."

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