Monday, June 16, 2008

Waters Receding Slowly in Iowa City

Waters Receding Slowly in Iowa City

Most of Iowa City has been spared the Biblical-level floods seen in Cedar Rapids, as the Iowa River passed its crest Sunday. A dry forecast for the next three days may mean Iowa City has seen its highest levels.

At mid-day Monday, Iowa City was at an anticlimactic lull. The urgent preparations for the worst have ceased, but waters are still too high to begin cleanup work.

The high water mark is most visible at City Carton Recycling, east of the river on Benton Street. With City Carton closed, city recycling pickup was cancelled, but garbage pickup proceeded normally. Power and water outages were mainly limited to evacuated areas.

A high water mark is also visible at our benchmark, the IMU. Harder to assess is the damage west of the river at the virtually inaccessible fine arts campus.

With water still rushing over the Coralville spillway, waters will drop very slowly in Iowa City, which will face a very different cleanup process than Cedar Rapids due to different hydrology and topography. Iowa City's central business district is uphill, not low-lying like Cedar Rapids, and was not damaged by flooding. But the areas that were flooded, like the arts campus and the Normandy Drive neighborhood, will face a longer wait to start cleanup. The Coralville Dam is holding Iowa River water back for a steadier release than the more dramatic crest and drop seen on the Cedar River.

Sandbags that, fortunately, went unused at North Madison Street.

Flood relief web sites are now online. The state of Iowa's site is at, while the eastern Iowa site is

The Iowa Avenue bridge remains closed, with a high water mark visible behind the police line. But the Benton and Burlington Street Bridges remained open through the crest despite planned closings. Traffic was beginning to look normal again on Burlington Street by mid-Monday. While University Hospitals was relatively vacant, some non-critical appointments were taking place.

Across the street from the Iowa Avenue bridge, there were no signs of the thousands of people who sandbagged the Lindquist Center Saturday. Campus was nearly deserted. Two young women had the west side of the Old Capitol to themselves, taking advantage of a perfect summer day with canceled classes to sunbathe, their backs to the river.

(Personal note: The Deeth-Steele-Cox home, and the Smallest Farm, a block and a half outside the 500 year flood plain, remained dry through the crest.)

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