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Columbus Junction, Iowa

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flooding in Columbus Junction Iowa

The flood stage for my hometown of Columbus Junction, Iowa is 19 ft. The floodwaters reached 28.3 ft. in 1993. The current prediction is that the flood waters will crest at 33.2 ft. I remember how bad it was in 1993. This is much worse. My parents live out in the country and are at a high enough elevation that they are safe from flooding. My mother told me yesterday that they cannot travel north or east as the roads are closed due to flooding.

Columbus Junction’s Mayor Dan Wilson says they’re trying to save the town’s business district. All the stores in the district were closed Friday afternoon, including the town’s only grocery store, bowling alley, doctor’s office and senior center and child daycare center. All were surrounded by stacks of sandbags. “We’re in uncharted territory,” says Wilson. “We”ve done everything we can.”

via the USA Today

The Economart, Columbus Junction’s grocery store, has the potential to be inundated with up to 4 ft. of water if the levees fail. I used to work there as a teenager. I’ve bowled at the bowling alley. The doctor’s office that is at risk is the clinic that I used to go to when I was growing up in Columbus Junction.

Here’s a video of flooding in Louisa County, where Columbus Junction, Wapello, Oakville and several other towns are located:

Near the spot where the Iowa and Cedar Rivers meet, sits the small town of Columbus Junction in Louisa County. On Tuesday, nearly all of the town’s 1900 residents met at the fire station to fill sandbag after sandbag, working desperately to build a levee and protect the town.

In 1993, Columbus Junction saw its worst flood on record when the Iowa River crested at just over 28 feet. On Sunday, the river is expected to crest at over 32 feet, well above that historic level.

No one really knows what will happen if the water gets as high as the Nation Weather Service is predicting. Right now, just about everybody who lives in this town is working frantically to save it.

Middle School and high school students work alongside their teachers, but non have ever had a lesson like this one — sandbagging to save their downtown.

via WQAD Channel 8 News

Here is another video of flooding in Iowa that features Columbus Junction:

Written by Eric Stoller

June 14th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

  • bfp

    eric–I’m thinking about your family, your city/state right now. I hope everything settles back down–I hope all the precautions work if needed.

  • cheryl finke

    Eric:
    I just heard from my family in Columbus Junction that the river will crest way above the preditions. I now live in Atlanta and am constantly watching the news and calling home. I feel so helpless. The people in Columbus Junction are such special people. Everyone helping neighbors and strangers. All coming together to try to save their wonderful town. My prayers are with all in the Wildcat land. They truly are the heart and soul of America.

  • Amos

    Hi Eric,

    A few friends and I were thinking about coming down to Columbus Junction tomorrow (Sunday) to help out. Do they still need people to sandbag? Thanks.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Amos – It’s hard to say what type of support they right now in CJ. I would not advise traveling too far in Eastern Iowa right now as the roadways are a mess. The latest news report that I read indicated that it might be more of a waiting game now as they wait for the water to recede.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    According to the Army Corps of Engineers, sandbagging in CJ has been halted:

    “”There’s no way to plug them,” said John Bekter of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, adding that the sandbagging effort in Columbus Junction had been halted due to safety concerns on the volunteers. “It (plant) will be under water in just a matter of time.”"

  • Alexis Carson

    The levee we built broke on the side closest to Grandview on 92 at about 7:00 last night. Columbus City is now without water and has been since 11:00 yesterday. Columbus still has water but we have been advised not to drink it. All of the downtown area from the motel to Economart is now well underwater. All that can be seen of the senior center and bowling alley is their roofs.
    The crest isn’t expected until tomarrow at the earliest so we are all just waiting to see what else we will lose. The National Guard has been staying at the elementary and are directing traffic and keeping people away from the water’s edge.
    Everyone has pulled together well and we are having a community supper tonight to thank everyone for all their hard work. The Red Cross has a shelter in the Methodist church for those who have no where to stay.
    Cabins on the Cedar River in Conesville have been hit hard as well. At least one cabin has floated away so far, and many others are in danger. Everyone has moved out of the cabins and is waiting for the water to go down to return to see what is left.
    We all thank you for your concern and prayers.

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  • Dorothy Volkl Sturmer

    Eric,

    thank you for the current flood information……………I grew up in Columbus Junction, and have been trying to find accurate, up-to-date information on the flood status there.

    Please keep up the good work, and continue to keep us informed!

  • Kim (Prior) McConahay

    Eric – I googled Columbus Junction Iowa Flood and came up with your website! My parents (Larry and Judy Prior) are still OK as they also live in higher ground but they have been filling me in on some of the details. Thanks for the information and pictures on your website.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    Hi Kim! — Long time no see! A lot of Iowans are finding my site via Google searches for flooding information in Columbus Junction. I’ve been able to put out a lot of information by cobbling together stories from a variety of news outlets. My mom sent me aerial photos of before/after the dike was ruptured. I’ll post them this evening…

    I’m glad that Larry and Judy are doing well. I’ve been seeing Hal being quoted a lot in the news.

    Full disclosure for my readers – Larry Prior is my godfather :-). Larry and Judy are some of my favorite people in the whole world :-)

  • Ken

    Thanks for posting information about what is happening in your area. We own a cabin in Conesville, but live out of state and don’t know how to find out what’s going on with it. Any other info about the situation at Edgewater Road would be most appreciated!

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all…

  • Jacki

    Regarding Edgewater…..
    Ken, we also have a cabin on the Cedar. My dad was there (via boat) on Saturday and said the water was already up tot the cabin’s windows (a total loss). Ours sits on 13 feet pillars.
    BTW – Many of the cabins nearby had already fallen off their pillars.
    It doesnt sound good.
    should i hear of anything further…i’ll be sure to post it for everyone.

  • Ken

    Jacki,
    Thanks for the news, sad as it is. Our cabin was up on pillars too. Someone had etched the highwater mark from 1993 on one of the pillars; it was about 1-2 feet from the floor. Be safe down there.

  • Lisa

    How are the cabins on the Iowa River, downstream from Col. Junction? My dad used to own a cabin there when I was younger. Just curious how they all are doing. So sad to hear about the destruction to the town. It’s a neat community.

  • Jay Fullmer

    Eric – Thanks for the info on the Junction.
    I used to farm with my Aunt and Uncle, Ralph and Katherine Lieberknecht, during the summers just east of town. My cousins from one of the Howell clans still live in the area, and my Aunt K just built a new home in town and moved back just 6 weeks ago (at 94 years of age!) after losing her son Mark. I had scheduled a long anticipated trip back there to show the family ‘The Junction’ monthes ago, and we’re sticking to plans, although the purpose of the trip may now be more to help and assist than vacation.
    I’ve been back to visit all my life and have so much love and respect for the hard working people of Columbus Junction; they’re the finest people in all the world, and I’ve been to a lot of it to verif that fact.
    Hang tough Junction!

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