The Ottumwa Courier

April 19, 2013

River level could drop drastically over weekend

By CINDY TOOPES Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — Wapello County Supervisor Greg Kenning read the newspaper Thursday morning and was more than amazed.

"This is the first discussion of road closings in three years," Kenning said Thursday morning. "We haven't had to worry due to dry conditions, and I don't feel as discouraged as before."

By midday, Kenning said the river would crest at 14 feet but could possibly reach over 18 feet. The water was coming through the tributaries, and "that causes problems," Kenning said.

He said local officials participated in a telephone hookup with state emergency managment officials, and they said the Des Moines River is expected to crest at about 16 feet.

"The river could be at 16.8 feet by 6 p.m. this evening and then rapidly fall through the weekend," he said. "Then, early next week, Red Rock is expected to release water."

Kenning said the latest weather event will demand infrastructure repair and other attention. He called it "a world under water," due to places like the low end of Rock Bluff Road and the low area around Cemetery Road. Rock Bluff Road runs northwest of Ottumwa, and Cemetery Road heads south of the city.

He also noted Rabbit Run Road has already been affected, as will the southern end of South Walnut Street, which is generally impacted in most water events. It's also affected by any release of water from Red Rock dam.

"The last time we had so much water in 24 hours was early August in 2010," Kenning said. "So, it's been a while. But that doesn't mean that's all we're going to get."

Kenning said Wapello County needs the moisture, but 5-6 inches of rain is too much. He also noted he hadn't heard of any shelters being set up.

"If we see there will be more rain, then we'll have a real flood situation," he said.

That'll be the time to have a big meeting with various entities, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army, according to Kenning.

"So far, that situation hasn't occurred, but we're still going to get some rain today," he said.

Kenning said county officials will be watching for any water damage to roads and for any releases from Red Rock dam. That's one of the things county officials learned from the rains in 2008 and 2010. Officials had concern for what 12 feet would do, and the officials figured it out.

"So now we've had some rehearsal, and we're waiting for any reports," he said. "So far, we have nothing at this time."