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Posts Tagged ‘flood rescue’

Our river apparently has crested and will be holding at high levels for several days before returning to normal. We have escaped the worst. As critical as we all sometimes become of our city and state officials, we should give credit for handling the flood crisis of 2008 at least for our community. Iowa could blame George W. Bush, I suppose. We all know how he caused the hurricanes, but maybe he’s had enough blame, probably for two lifetimes.

Sparing the worst for Ottumwa isn’t because we didn’t get the water. Preparations and continued diligence (hard, hard, work) so far have prevented the catastrophes that have hit so many other Iowa cities and towns. The crest was about a foot below the 22 foot crest expected, but the 20.8 foot crest was the second highest ever. Even higher than the 1947 flood that devastated Ottumwa from one end to the other. The 1993 crest was 21.8. Flood stage begins at 10.0 feet. City workers, many hundreds of citizens, and about 300 Natl. Guardsmen all contributed. Even mentioned was a group of Amish from Davis County who came to help fill sandbags.

Nevertheless, we have had a fair amount of non-compliance and un-cooperativeness from some citizens. People have insisted in going around barricades, interfering with operations, and even using the river for entertainment and sightseeing (flood watching) which resulted in 8 adults being dumped in the river. The four men were able to grasp a bridge before being rescued. The four women were nearly lost, being saved only by extensive rescue efforts by the Fire Department, National Guard, and even Coast Guard units that are helping with the flood. Many men were diverted from regular duty to address the rescue efforts. Two rescue boats were destroyed and lost, one owned by the Fire Department, and one by the National Guard, and who knows how many additional lives could have been lost. Idiocy is alive and well. Future trespassers in the off-limit areas have been put on notice.

I-80 and I-380 are again open. The railroads are not yet running. Our own Market St. Bridge remains closed, but slowly Iowa will return to normal. The unfortunate thing about containing the river in one place often means that you merely send the water on down to the next community or open farm land. Eventually, somebody gets it and now the Mississippi River towns must prepare not only for the water coming down their own river but that which will be dumped into the Mississippi from all the tributaries. Good luck Burlington, Keokuk, Hannibal, Quincy, and St. Louis, etc. And so it goes.

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