Johnson County Expects More Flooding, Road Closures

By Hayley Bruce, Reporter

City Park in Iowa City on Friday morning, May 31, 2013. (COURTESY BECKY VARDAMAN)


By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa — As outflows increase at the Coralville Reservoir and water levels continue to rise on the Cedar and Iowa rivers, officials with the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency said Friday morning they were preparing for more flooding and road closures throughout the weekend.

Terrence Neuzil, public information officer for Johnson County Emergency Management, said the Iowa River basin, luckily, didn't get as much rain as expected, topping off at somewhere between 1/4 and 3/4 of an inch with heavy runoff. Neuzil said after today, officials aren't expecting any more rain until Tuesday or Wednesday and the Army Corps of Engineers is projecting that the reservoir will peak at 712.1 feet above sea level on June 8th, with the possibility of going over the spillway on June 4.

The Corps had also increased outflows at the reservoir to 15,000 cubic feet per second at the time of the press conference, and expected to increase outflow to 17,000 cfs by 1 p.m. Those outflows have led to mandatory evacuations at River Front Estates north of Iowa City and the Izaak Walton League area in rural Johnson County as well as road closures on Dubuque Street and the 800 block of Normandy Drive in Iowa City.

County Supervisor Janelle Rettig said people are encouraged to take their animals with them, as the ability to get back in will be limited, and law enforcement officials are not ticketing people at this time. Neuzil said between 20 and 30 buildings are expected to be damaged by flood water.

The county has also closed six rural roads including 140th Street east of Ely Road, Sandy Beach Road at the beach, River Junction Road south of Otter Creek Road, Y Avenue off the Tri County Bridge Road, Swan Lake between Greencastle and Halfmoon, and Amana Road between Blaine Cemetary and Greencastle.

Neuzil said the agency is also beginning to monitor water levels along the Highway 6 bridge, Butler Bridge, and the Interstate 380 bridge, though I-380 doesn't typically become a concern until the elevation at the reservoir reaches 716.6 feet above sea level. The county is also monitoring conditions at Sutliff Road as the Cedar River continues to rise.

Iowa City and Coralville are also now accepting volunteers to fill sandbags. That effort is being coordinated through the United Way emergency volunteer center, located at Montgomery Hall at the Johnson County fairgrounds. Neuzil said there is an order for 300,000 sandbags coming in from New Jersey that will be used throughout the county.

The University of Iowa's primary concerns as of Friday morning included Mayflower Hall, Art Building West, the Iowa Advance Technology Lab and the Liberty Square area in Coralville where the Mother's Milk Bank is located. The UI has not yet sought volunteers for sandbagging efforts, and has been putting up HESCO barriers along the Iowa River as well as near Mayflower Hall.

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