The flood potential in eastern Iowa along the Iowa River has diminished enough that the Iowa Corps of Engineers has downgraded its response from “high alert” to monitoring mode.
A spokesman for Johnson County Emergency Management, Terrence Neuzil, says that means they can keep watching, but downstream flooding in Columbus Junction, Wapello and Oakville has become less likely.
Projections last week at one point showed the water possibly going over the spillway around Wednesday or Thursday of this week. That water went over the spillway in 1993 and 2008 and caused severe flooding downstream. Neuzil says they now will watch for a significant change in the weather that would dump more rain into the watershed.
The University of Iowa downstream in Iowa City started preparing for possible flooding at the end of last week. Spokesman Stephen Praderelli says they are cautiously optimistic about the change.
He says the U-I decided to take action last week when the projections from the Corps and river gauge readings all indicated possible flooding. The school used what are called HESCO barriers that are put in place and filled with sand to block floodwaters. Pradarelli says they will leave the barriers up until the water level is low enough to not cause a concern.
The university suffered significant damage from the 2008 flooding and construction projects in that recovery are still underway and some of the areas that had to be protected. Neuzil from Johnson County says the Coralville Reservoir Lake is expected to peak today (Tuesday) at 708 feet. That’s four feet short of the 712-foot emergency spillway. He says the Corps is currently moving the water out of the Reservoir Lake downstream at 18-thousand cubic feet per second. That will keep water levels high on the Iowa River. Likely staying at flood stage until July 14th.