North Central Iowa Flooded By Cedar River
CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Hundreds of sandbaggers worked Monday to protect homes and businesses as high water washed down the Cedar River following weekend cloudbbursts in Iowa and southern Minnesota.
Rising water from heavy rain also filled basements and parking lots in central and eastern Iowa, putting sandbaggers and sump pumps back in business there.
Much of the state endured weeks of severe flooding this summer, but this part of north-central Iowa managed to miss most of that, until Monday.
″There was flooding in 1961, ’63 and ’65, but this is going to be the worst,″ Mayor Bob Monroe said. ″And this is supposed to be our dry month.″
At least a dozen families were evacuated from homes in Charles City, about 115 miles northeast of Des Moines, as the Cedar River surged out of its banks to cover cars, parks, streets and homes.
More than 200 volunteers filled 10,000 sandbags before noon.
The river, fed by heavy rain early Sunday 70 miles north around in Austin, Minn., rose 10 inches an hour and was at 19.8 feet before noon and rising. Flood stage is 12 feet. The record is 21.5 feet, set in 1965.
″I was in town at midnight and it wasn’t even out of its banks. What a mess. This is a mess,″ said Tracie Farmer, who lives north of town.
The river forced authorities to close about 150 blocks of side streets and access roads and about a dozen main streets through town.
The National Weather Service said rainfall reports in southern Minnesota from storms early Sunday included 10.25 inches at Adams, 9.5 inches at LeRoy, 6.8 inches at Albert Lea, 4.52 inches at Waseca and 3.5 inches at Austin.
Flooding forced more than 1,500 people from their homes in the Austin area over the weekend, but the water began falling Monday and residents were beginning to go home.
″Things have improved greatly today,″ Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp said. He said it was too soon to estimate agricultural and property damage.
Three deaths in Minnesota were indirectly blamed on the storms. Three motorcyclists seeking shelter from the rain under a highway overpass were killed by a passing pickup.
Rainfall Monday in Iowa included more than 4 inches of rain at Jewell in the central part of the state and at Wapello in the southeast. Weekend downpours dropped more than 6 inches on parts of the north.
At Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines, residents sandbagged businesses in low-lying areas along Squaw Creek for the third time this summer.
In Winneshiek County near the Minnesota border in northeastern Iowa, firefighters used a ladder to rescue Harry Janvrin from the upper floor of his rural home Monday morning after the Upper Iowa River surrounded the two-story house. Janvrin was not injured.
Heavy rain Monday morning in eastern Iowa sent up to 1 1/2 feet of water flowing over U.S. 61 near Blue Grass and several streets were flooded in Davenport. Street flooding also was reported elsewere.
Iowa has had widespread flooding this spring and summer with the Missouri River rising from its banks in the west, the swollen Mississippi in the east, and the Racoon River in central Iowa knocking out drinking water service to 250,000 people in and around Des Moines.
Joan Reams of Charles City watched the Cedar River creep to about 25 feet from her door.
″It got up a little bit this spring, but this is bad. It just came up so quick,″ she said. ″My husband, Jim, is in the National Guard and was in Des Moines for six days last month. He’s seen enough flooding.″