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Independence residents prepare ahead of projected Wapsipinicon River crest

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:02 AM CDT
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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Wapsipinicon River isn’t at flood stage yet, but a projected crest early Wednesday morning is at about 16 feet, well into major flood stage.

Tammy Defoe, who has lived in Independence for nearly 40 years, said she and her husband are used to the river flooding.

“I seem to notice it happens at least once a year every couple of years,” Defoe said. “My husband did live on the Waspsie on the other side in 99 and his house got destroyed in that. So he’s used to that.”

With it forecast to rise 10 more feet in 24 hours, they have had to prepare.

“So yesterday he had to go and move all the canoes and anything he had out,” she said. “He had to move it up to dry land and everybody got evacuated out of there that had any trailers and campers.”

City Manager Al Roder has been watching the predictions, and the Wapsie is expected to rise four feet above flood stage, cresting in Independence early Wednesday morning.

“We know there’s a significant amount of water coming in,” Roder said. “How much that it gets here, how fast it gets here, is still in a little bit of question. We’re watching the flood gauges not only here but also upstream, we’re trying to determine how much we can expect, when can we expect it, and we are just paying attention to what’s coming around us.”

Roder urges the community to pay attention and avoid floodwater.

“Stay out of the floodwater as much as you can, pay attention to what’s going on around you,” he said.

After the floods of 2008 Independence lost homes near the river through buyouts. Now those that remain are under threat again.

“I’ve been here long enough I remember when most of the east had houses over here and most of them were bought out, so I think most of them are ok and the ones that are still there just holding on, and they just don’t want to move they are used to it,” Defoe said. “They’ve been flooded enough.”

Independence has a sandbagging station available at the City Shop on 12th Street Northeast.

For more information on river levels and when they are expected to crest, click here.

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