The Ottumwa Courier

April 18, 2013

Rising water concerns low-lying areas

By MARK NEWMAN Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — Some residents along Rabbit Run Road were in raincoats Wednesday, hooking up RVs and making other arrangements for possible flooding.

A county official says that's a good idea, because he's worried about flooding.

"The Army Corps of Engineers are usually pretty accurate in their predictions," said Brian Moore, Wapello County engineer. "Their current prediction says the Des Moines River could reach 14.5 feet [today] by 7 p.m. At that level, it can affect low-lying areas of the county. I'm also seeing some flash flooding locally."

The following roads would be impacted, and could even wind up under water: Walnut Avenue, 28th Street, Cemetery Road, Rabbit Run Road, 155th Avenue and Rock Bluff Road.

"Folks along the river in these areas need to pay attention to the river and should make arrangements in preparation for high waters [to get to safety]," Moore said.

Some of the neighbors living along Rabbit Run Road have plenty of practice. Floods invariably affect their area first as the Des Moines River rises. Many of their "backyards" are directly against the river bank. Even at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a few residents were braving the pouring rain to hook trailers up to pickups or remove free-standing objects like chairs from their yards.

While some properties looked fine, others were already beginning to get covered in water. But that water wasn't coming from the river; it was pooling in front yards after 2 inches of rain landed on yards already saturated from previous southeast Iowa rains.

Moore said the secondary roads department would put signs on roads warning of deep water if they find them. Trying to drive across water when you can't see the road below is a dangerous idea, he said. Streams, creeks and smaller rivers were starting to overflow their banks on Wednesday. There is a silver lining to this particular storm cloud. After looking at the charts and graphs posted by The Corps, Moore predicted that if there is flooding, it won't be long term.

"By Friday morning, the river may have gone back down," he said, adding, "We will be updating as we get more information."