Flood Preparation Efforts Ongoing in Vinton

By Kelsey Kremer, Reporter

Josh Erickson and Scott Meyer, both Vinton street department employees help fill and pack down sand in HESCO barriers on Friday, May 31, 2013 behind the Vinton Municipal Electiric Utility buildings. The water had already reached the barriers behind the buildings by Friday morning. (Kelsey Kremer/The Gazette)

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By Aaron Hepker

VINTON, Iowa - The flood preparation along the Cedar River in Vinton was moving as fast Friday as the rising floodwater beside Friday morning as city workers, AmeriCorps and volunteers returned to help fill sand bags and HESCO barriers protecting the Vinton Fire Station and Municipal Electric Utility buildings.

"Right now, if everything continues the way it is our situation is not real critical," said Vinton Municipal Electric Utility General Manager, Rick Ohrt, "things are going real smooth."

On Thursday the City of Vinton put out a call for volunteers to help assemble the barriers. The barriers were only filled half full and volunteers were called upon again to help fill the barriers completely Friday morning as the flood water crept closer.

Ohrt said the decision was made yesterday to put up HESCO barriers around the building as a precaution and as a good practice to learn "how to do it in case we have another big flood."

"It's one of those things that you dont have a lot of time to react if you sit on your heels and you dont put these things up," Ohrt said.

According to the National Weather Service, the Cedar River is currently expected to crest at 20.8 feet in Vinton on Saturday. A crest of 20.8 feet would be the second highest crest at Vinton, four feet lower than the all time high set in 2008 when the Cedar River rose to 24.7 feet on June 12.

After the flood of 2008, roughly $200,000 was spent to purchase the HESCO barriers now protecting city buildings along the river.

"After the flood of '08 we protected this building (electric utility) so that we could take up to 25 foot without using the HESCO barriers, but the fire station is not protected up there to over 19 foot, so we had to go ahead and deploy some of these to help protect that anyway," Ohrt said.

Across the street, Jennifer Parr's house sits ready to take on flood water.

"The water was going to get two and a half feet in front of my house and my foundation is a foot high, so I figured I was in trouble," Parr said.

Parr lives on 3rd avenue and her house faces the already flooded intersection at 3rd and second street. Parr and her husband bought the home after the summer of 2008 fully aware of the home's potential to flood.

"It's from the 1800s, it's just such a cute house and who figured that would happen again," Parr said.

With the help of family and friends Parr began to pack her belongs yesterday. She has moved everything out of her basement and put furniture up on blocks in the main level. She is most upset about having to leave her garden.

"I am just sad because all of my perennials, everything is starting to bloom, Parr said. "We have a honey crisp apple tree and I know that it will be ok, but I don't want to leave it."

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