University of Iowa flood update

University of Iowa flooding in Iowa Memorial Union 2008

The Iowa Memorial Union on the campus of the University of Iowa is currently closed due to extensive flood damage. Floodwaters were 5 feet deep in the IMU. The university is pumping air into the building to help dry it out.

From: University of Iowa Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Lola Lopes –

Although the worst part of the flood seems to be abating we are still in crisis mode regarding utilities (steam, chilled water, and electricity). This means that even though we are resuming classes, research, and other university operations on Monday, this is not a return to normal. We have beaten back a major catastrophe and should be proud of ourselves, but it will be many, many months before we return to full functioning. Until then, we need to continue to work as a team and always keep the functioning of the entire enterprise in mind.

From a utility point of view, the east and west sides of the campus are no longer connected. This means that conditions are different on the east and west sides of the river.

via the UI Flood blog.

Continue reading University of Iowa flood update

Columbus Junction, IA flooding photos

Photographs of flooding in Columbus Junction, Iowa:
flooding in Economart grocery store in Columbus Junction Iowa
The store with the giant apple on it is the Economart – Columbus Junction’s grocery store. I worked at the Economart for 2 years while I was in high school. I was always asking people if they wanted “paper or plastic”. My former doctor’s office is located just a few stores down from the Economart.

Columbus Junction Iowa Photographs of Economart flooding in 2008

More photos of flooding (before and after) in Columbus Junction after the jump…

Continue reading Columbus Junction, IA flooding photos

Recovery efforts in Columbus Junction

Woohoo!!! “The boil order for Columbus Junction and Columbus City has been lifted. The water plant is functioning normally, and the water in your faucet is safe for all uses including human consumption. Restaurants and bars are free to serve prepared foods and beverages.”

[Columbus Junction] officials said medical and dental services are back in operation, albeit from a remote location since the town’s medical center fell victim to the Iowa River.

A chiropractor has rented a facility in nearby Columbus City and has started accepting patients. Members of the National Guard helped load and unload the chiropractor’s supplies.

The town dentist “got a chair” and office in Washington County about 20 miles from Columbus Junction.

“They have given him one chair three days a week and he’s (dentist) looking at a temporary facility about halfway in between,” said City Councilman Hal Prior.

More importantly, the medical clinic has been moved to occupy about four to five classrooms at the elementary school. Patient medical records are intact and were also moved to that location.

City officials also have allowed a lumber yard and an auto parts store to return to their buildings and restock their merchandise. It will take an additional two days for some businesses to get back in their properties.

“We, however, don’t anticipate that the other businesses getting in soon because they are submerged a little deeper,” Prior said.

via the Burlington Hawk Eye

Iowa as “God’s country”

The trope that “Iowa is God’s country” is furiously spreading around the interwebs in the wake of this month’s flooding in Iowa. This rhetoric seems inherently similar to the comparisons that are currently being made with Iowa-flooding and New Orleans-Katrina.

I was under the impression (from those folks who believe in God) that God sort of looked over the entire planet and didn’t pick favorites. (Also, exactly which God is Iowa the country of?)

Iowans are putting in a valiant effort to protect each other, their homes, and their private/public infrastructure. It is what anyone in that situation would do.

Saying that Iowa is God’s country is an insult to anyone who is not in Iowa and who believes in God. Let’s just say that God has the planet and end divisive tropes that disintegrate community.

Oldest U.S. Mosque is in Iowa

mother mosque of america cedar rapids iowa

The oldest mosque in the United States is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It only took several days of flooding and countless hours reading news reports for me to find this out. The mosque was dedicated in February of 1934. I love it when I learn something new about Iowa’s history. I lived in Iowa for 23 years and never knew about the Mother Mosque of America.

The oldest standing mosque in the United States is one of the many structures in Cedar Rapids damaged by flooding. Imam Taha Tawil is the executive director for the Mother Mosque of America. He was allowed access to the building Tuesday for the first time since it was flooded last week.

“There is a sadness, a hurt in my heart, because this mosque is like part of my family,” Tawil said. The mosque is one of many museums and historic buildings in Cedar Rapids hit by the floodwaters. “When I look around, I see the Czech Museum, the African American Museum, the Mother Mosque,” Tawil said, “and I said ‘flood doesn’t know color, flood doesn’t know race or religion or tradition. Flood is like death…it doesn’t distinguish.'”

via Radio Iowa

Flooding in Burlington, Iowa

My parents both grew up in Burlington, Iowa. It was the Stoller family weekend destination when I was growing up. My grandparents as well as several other relatives still live there. Fortunately, everyone is safe. The waters that flooded Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Columbus Junction, Oakville and several other towns in Iowa have made their way to the Mississippi River. The floodwaters are impacting communities in the southeastern tip of Iowa as well as in Missouri and Illinois.

As an overflowing Mississippi River was headed for a second record-setting crest, Burlington residents braced for the worst while hoping for floodwaters to make a quick exit.

The Mississippi set a new record with high-water mark of 25.73 on Tuesday. Wednesday, water levels decreased due to a levee break three miles south of Burlington in Illinois.

By later today, the river is expected to climb back up to 25.4 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

“The second crest is a result of the levee break where the water level in Burlington dropped,” said Dan Ferry, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “All that water has filled in behind those levees, and now it’s making its way back up the Mississippi.”

via the Burlington Hawk Eye

Police shoot hogs to save levees

Police shoot hogs to save levees near Burlington
Police shoot hogs to save levees near Burlington.” This is a recent headline story from the Des Moines Register. Apparently, the hogs are coming from a hog confinement facility that flooded in Oakville, Iowa (the site of some of the most severe flooding in the state). I’m not a fan of hog confinement operations. They stink. The smells emanating from their lagoons are atrocious and the treatment of the hogs inside stinks worse than the hogs themselves. I understand the rationale for killing these animals to save the levee. However, I do not have to like it.

Des Moines County Sheriff’s Department deputies are shooting hogs that are destroying the top of a levee north of town that is protecting thousands of acres of farm ground and dozens of homes.

“We don’t like having to do this, but we don’t have any choice,” said Sheriff Mike Johnstone.

The hogs are being shot as they appear on top of a drainage ditch levee that is holding back several miles of floodwater that poured into the area when an Iowa River levee near Oakville broke Saturday. The water moves south and enters what is known here as the “big ditch” and is carried on an east-west route to the Mississippi River. The threatened levee holds the water in the ditch.

The hogs are from confinement facilities from the flooded Oakville area. Many drowned when the Oakville levee broke, but those that survived have been swept south by the current and are seeking high ground. And the levee is the only nearby ground.

“They’re crawling up the side of the levee and breaking down the plastic and the sandbags on the top,” said Johnstone. “It is destroying the levee. There’s no way to contain the hogs or round them up and there’s no way to get them out of the water.”

The animals are being shot with AR-15 rifles, Johnston said. He said about 15 had been killed as of early afternoon Wednesday. It is unknown how many hogs are in the area, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds “They get on top of the levee and try to jump over a three-foot berm at the top and their hooves are puncturing the plastic and tearing up the bags,” Johnston said. “If that levee breaks it’ll flood from there to Burlington.”

It’s an area about three miles wide and 12 miles long.

Flooding + Road Damage in Iowa

Iowa Floods of 2008 - Birdland Area

The damage caused by flooding to Iowa’s roadways is phenomenal. The road in this video looks like an earthquake occurred. The flood waters went right through the road. This video was shot by some Iowa DOT employees:

This clip from Vinton, Iowa shows how floodwaters sliced right through the roadway…

More flooded Iowa road videos after the jump…
(photograph via the Iowa Floods of 2008 Flickr Group)

Continue reading Flooding + Road Damage in Iowa

Comparing Iowa to New Orleans

I been reading a lot of quotes on the interwebs that are saying that Iowa is handling flooding better than New Orleans dealt with Katrina. A lot of the comments (some are more overt than others) imply that white folks in Iowa (of course these comments completely marginalize Iowans of color) are doing a better job of steadfastly standing up to floodwaters while folks of color in New Orleans were looting and relying on handouts. Is this rhetoric racist? Of course it is. It’s comparing two situations that are logically impossible to compare. A single urban area vs. acres of farmland dotted with small to medium sized towns does not present a landscape that is comparable. The rhetorically racist comparisons of flooded Iowa and Katrina-impacted New Orleans reminds me of this Tim Wise video that illustrates how racism has been used to facilitate division amongst working class white folks and working class folks of color.

via Michael Faris

Columbus Junction – flood recovery

flooding in Columbus Junction Iowa  residents begin to recovery efforts

COLUMBUS JUNCTION — Bottled water has been made available for residents here after officials shut down the city’s water plant Saturday. Waters from the Iowa River breached the levee, submerging part of downtown where the senior center, the medical center, the pharmacy, the water plant and some other businesses were left under at least 12 feet of water.

The National Guard also has trucked-in “Water Buffalos,” which are tanks full of water, and situated them at five key points around town.

City officials said they have ran a 3,000-foot fire hose tapping into Tyson Foods water supply, hooking it up there and running it across the river bridge and into town.

“We’re pumping water from their system directly to recharge our tower,” said city councilman Hal Prior. “We’re on a recovery mode right now.”

Even after the battle against the fury of the Iowa River was lost, Prior said the spirit of the town and its residents remain glued to a common goal — recovery.

via the Burlington Hawk Eye.

It’s great to see that things are improving in Columbus Junction. Just a few days ago, Columbus Junction was inundated with flood waters. City Council member Hal Prior talks about the decision to send national guard personnel from CJ to help out at Oskaloosa, Iowa.