Flooding Continues In Johnson County

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

People walk along the top of the emergency spillway at the Coralville Dam as water from the lake continues to rise Friday, May 31, 2013 in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/KCRG-TV9)

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By Richard Pratt

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Flooding from an overwhelmed Iowa River will continue in Johnson County, and up to 60 structures could become inundated with water in the coming days. And yet, officials feel optimistic.

“Mother nature has spared us from much worse conditions,” said Terrence Neuzil, spokesman for Johnson County Emergency Management. “There was no widespread rain on Friday, and that is incredibly good news.”

As for water already in Eastern Iowa’s waterways, officials say levels at the Coralville Lake are expected to continue rising until it crests at 712.8 feet on June 8 or 9. Water from the lake is expected to pour over the spillway at 712 feet on June 6.

With the Iowa River running at about 40,000 cubic feet per second into the Coralville Lake, Neuzil said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to increase the dam’s outflow to 17,000 cfs and eventually 18,000 cfs today – meaning the gates will be fully open.

As the lake elevation begins to climb and pressure begins to build, the outflow will increase to 20,000 cfs by June 4 or 5, according to the Corps of Engineers. When it tops the spillway, the outflow will rise to 21,000 cfs, officials said.

At that level, according to Neuzil, 50 to 60 structures countywide will become vulnerable to water damage. At least half of them lie in unincorporated areas of Johnson County.

“Some are under water now,” he said.

Preliminary damage estimates for the unincorporated portions of the county are between $4 and $5 million. Damage assessments for the county’s urban zones are still being processed.

“This is going to be a prolonged event,” he said. “It’s going to be part of the scene all summer.”

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