Category: 2019 flooding

Gov. Reynolds Tours Continued Western Iowa Flooding

PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds was back in western Iowa Monday, touring flood damage for the second time this spring.

The governor toured Pacific Junction and Hamburg, two of the towns inundated by the Missouri River. The levees were already compromised due to flooding back in March before recent heavy rains pushed the river back into those towns.

The governor says despite another setback, she’s noted that people aren’t giving up.

“These are the most resilient individuals I’ve seen and just the tenacity and the determination. But they’re tired…you know they’re just tired, but they’re still fighting the fight and they’re telling us what they need. They’re looking for ways that they can protect what they have left so you know they are not packing up their bags and leaving, they are here for the long haul,” says Reynolds.

Farmers in the town of Hamburg did manage to patch one breach temporarily last week. That patch continues to hold.

This Iowa Town is Entering its Third Month of Flooding and There’s No End in Sight

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Judy and Ricardo Ortega say they are tired and feel like their freedom is gone.

The couple’s neighborhood in Pleasant Valley, Iowa, has been submerged for the past 58 days, and more floodwater is on the way.

“You’ll clean it up and then you’ll get four inches of mud and soot again. And you’re back to power washing and cleaning your house and vehicles again,” Ricardo Ortega said.

Pleasant Valley, which sits along the Mississippi River, floods every time the river crests, Ortega said.

As flooding enters its third month in the town, residents there have made habits of parking their cars on a hill, donning waterproof clothing when they go out and using kayaks to get around.

A flood warning remains in effect “until further notice” in Pleasant Valley and its surrounding areas, according to the National Weather Service.

“Major flooding is occurring and is forecast to continue,” the weather service said late Wednesday.

The target areas — Muscatine and Scott counties — also include Davenport, Iowa, where the Mississippi River broke through a temporary barrier last month, sending water rushing into the city’s downtown. The Mississippi River at Rock Island, by Davenport, reached a record crest of 22.70 feet earlier this month, with water rising so high it nearly covered some vehicles.

Flooding has been widespread in the central United States. As of Wednesday, severe weather and heavy rain had resulted in major flooding at 70 river gauges along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, with another 104 experiencing moderate flooding.

The American Red Cross has been responding to flooding in Illinois and Iowa since March 14, according to a statement from the organization. According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River at Le Claire — near Pleasant Valley — has a more than 90% chance of moderate flooding through mid-June.

The Red Cross currently has one shelter open and is delivering meals to areas hit hardest by floods.

“This relief effort in Illinois and Northwest Iowa is happening simultaneously as the Red Cross is providing comfort and support to people across multiple states as tornadoes and flooding continue to devastate communities,” the organization said in a statement.

Smithsonian Institute Helps Recover Memories Damaged in Iowa Floodwater

SIDNEY, Iowa- Residents western Iowa have had many homes flooded out over the past month. In addition to the loss of living space, is many personal items, photos, books and documents are now water-logged and muddy.

FEMA officials announced this week a series of workshops in Sidney, Glenwood, Missouri Valley, and Woodbury County to help those in need to learn how to recover some items.

“We’re here with the saving your family treasures program we’re here to teach survivors techniques that will allow them to salvage their personal items,” said Colleen Carroll, of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative. “But if the object has personal value to you, these are small steps you can take with supplies that come from your local Walmart your local hardware store easy to get.”

The FEMA team set up in the Emergency Operation Center in the Fremont County Engineers Office outside Sidney. The demonstrated using distilled water and a brush to restore photos.

“Post 1970 photos were developed in water so then it’s OK for them to go back into water,” said Carroll. “Photographs that are stuck together it will slowly start to come part If there’s any debris or anything like that in your photograph she can take a paintbrush while they’re in the water very gently and one directions to brush off the debris.”

Books can be saved with paper towels between the pages, and change the towels when wet. The books should not be in sunlight or heavy breeze, but should be well ventilated. If a book is damaged, and you don’t have time to deal with it, you can put it in the freezer.

“Put them in the freezer that’ll put a stop on whatever is happening to the book it will keep mold from growing on it in the freezer can help dry it out just a little bit,” said Carroll.

Below is a tip list, courtesy of FEMA, with information which can help people with flooded documents:

Here are some basic procedures to get you started:
·      If your prized possessions have been in contact with sewage or any chemicals, you will need professional help. Call IMALERT (Iowa Museums, Archives and Libraries Emergency Response Team) at 319-384-3673. They accept calls from members of the public and can provide advice and suggest a conservator who can help you. Other sources of help include the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, 402-595-1180, and the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis at 612-870-3120.
·      Gentle air-drying indoors is best for all your treasured belongings. Hair dryers, irons, ovens and prolonged exposure to sunlight will do irreversible damage. Increase indoor airflow with fans, open windows, air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
·      Use great caution in handling your heirlooms, which can be especially fragile when wet. Separate damp materials: remove the contents from drawers; take photographs out of damp albums; remove paintings and prints from frames; place paper towels between the pages of wet books.
·      Gently loosen dirt and debris on fragile objects with soft brushes and cloths. Avoid rubbing, which can grind in the dirt.
·      Clean photographs by rinsing them carefully in clean water. Air-dry photos on a plastic screen or paper towel, or by hanging them by the corner with plastic clothespins. Don’t let the image touch any other surfaces as it dries.
·      You may not be able to save everything, so focus on what’s most important to you, whether for historic, monetary or sentimental reasons.

For more information, visit the Heritage Emergency National Task Force at or emailHENTF@si.ed.

Senators Challenge Army Corps on Its Readiness for Missouri River Flooding

Glenwood, Iowa  —  A bipartisan group of US Senators pushed Army Corps of Engineers leaders on Wednesday to explain why western Iowa is again underwater thanks to Missouri River flooding.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst convened a filed hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Glenwood.  Ernst was joined by fellow Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley, Kansas Republican Jerry Moran and New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in conducting the hearing.  Maj. General Scott Spellmon and John Remus with the Army Corps of Engineers were called to testify about flood preps along the Missouri River.

Senator Ernst began the hearing by questioning the priorities of the Army Corps in the area.  Ernst says Iowans are telling her the Army Corps is focused more on recreation that flood control.  “A lot of concerns I’ve heard from residents in this stretch of the river is that fish and wildlife seems to have a higher priority than flood management,” Ernst said.

But Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, says that’s simply not the case.  ” “Our priorities are set by the runoff,” Remus said, “In high runoff years flood control is there. We’ve been in flood control operations for the last 13 months. We will probably be in flood control operations for the rest of this year and the next couple.”

Spellmon told the Senators that no matter what happened in the months and years before this Spring, this flooding event would still have happened.  “The meteorological event that came in that put rain on top of snow on frozen ground quickly overran the tributaries and frankly overwhelmed the design capacity of the levee system,” Gen. Spellmon told the Senate panel.  He says even if the river bed had been empty it still couldn’t have held all of the water than ran off during March thunderstorms.

Senator Gillibrand, who is in Iowa holding presidential campaign events as well, says she doesn’t buy the Army Corps’ responses.

“It’s been 22 years that they’ve been trying to restructure the protections around these communities and they haven’t done it,” Gillibrand told Channel 13’s Dave Price, “We’ve authorized over a billion dollars of Army Corps of Engineers projects that would make it possible to protect Iowans and our farmers.”  Gillibrand says the problem has been exacerbated by the Trump Administration.  She says the Trump White House uses a formula based on property values to determine where money is spent, and unfortunately the Missouri River region doesn’t meet qualifications.

Gillibrand and fellow Senate Democrat and presidential contender Cory Booker both also defended their vote against a bill that would have provided millions for flood relief.  They both say they prefer to support a bill that would also provide billions in funding for ongoing recovery from hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.

Booker says Republicans need to stop playing politics with disaster relief.  “I think all of us should get sophisticated enough, people on both sides of the aisle, that when someone comes to town and starts pointing fingers, throwing stones, it says more about them than it does about the earnest desire to really reach out and solve problems.