Devastating Floods Continue Across Iowa

I had a chance to take a few pictures of the flooding in Iowa this weekend.  In much of the state you are bound to run across a scene like the following picture.  This is the Iowa River near Amana, IA, about 20 miles upstream from Iowa City:

Normally you would not see any water from this vantage point.  The river is about 20 feet higher than usual.  The next picture is of the same area, but taken from the opposite side of the river in the town of Amana.  If you look closely at the water line in the distance, about 1/3 of the way in from the right edge of the picture, you can just see the top of the bridge shown in the first picture.  It’s a little over two miles away.

The river level is finally cresting now In Iowa City. It is the home of the University of Iowa, which has suffered significant damage already and will need to seek help from a water damage restoration company when the floods subside. The campus is closed this week and all school events have been cancelled.  Many campus buildings sit right aside the Iowa River (on both sides) and close to 1.5 million sandbags have been laid throughout the city.  I took this picture of some campus buildings along the east side of the river on Sunday:

A levee along the Iowa River broke on Friday between Iowa City and the suburb of Coralville, which is causing major flooding to Coralville businesses.  The following picture is looking west down Highway 6 in Coralville.  The buildings are difficult to see, but there is a row of businesses behind the trees on each side of the highway.  Some busineess have up to 8 feet of water.

The extent of the damage won’t be known until the water recedes much further.  One of the most immediate concerns is that at least 36,000 Iowans are now homeless.  This number could increase in the coming days as the floodwaters move southeast toward the Mississippi River.  For residents that could remain in their homes there are widespread power outages, sewer system backups, and lack of safe drinking water.  

The most significant damage so far is in Cedar Rapids, where early estimates of $736 million in damages have been made.  Hundreds of homes and businesses are still under water in Cedar Rapids and will remain so for several more days.  The following picture (I believe from AP) shows the power of the flooding in downtown Cedar Rapids.  The bridge, unsurprisingly, later collapsed.

Across the state it is expected the damages will exceed the $2.1 billion sustained in the floods of 1993.  Iowa is the nation’s leading producer of corn, and it is estimated that 16% of the crop has already been destroyed by flooding.  And the surviving crop will yield significantly less than normal from the wet conditions of the soil.  Corn prices have risen to $7.31 per bushel as of Friday, up from about $5.00 a few months ago.  

The flood will affect people all over the country.  The price of corn affects many other food items.  Meat prices will increase because corn is the major food source of livestock, and many foods use byproducts such as corn syrup, corn oil, and corn starch.  Transportation is being impacted all over the country as major highways and railroads are closed in Iowa, and barge traffic is halted on large stretches of the Mississippi River.  And the flood will not be over soon.  The Mississippi is rising quickly in southeastern Iowa, western Illinois, and northern Missouri.        

We actually are quite lucky in Des Moines where I live.  We have major flooding here but the levee system held in most places.  The Des Moines River crested about 8 inches below the top of the levee system.  I took the following picture looking north along the Des Moines River towards the downtown area.  You can see how close the river is to the tops of the levees and how close it was to covering the bridge.  A little more water would have caused similar damage in Des Moines as was suffered in Cedar Rapids.  


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  1. …as if we hadn’t suffered enough already.

  2. you have a better chance of getting Federal assistance than the poor black people of Louisiana did.  No one wants you to drown and never recover, or at least won’t be willing to say so openly.  The loss of the corn crop will have enormous repercussions, that alone will bring attention to the need to help your state recover.  

  3. the time to keep us informed with your home ground look at this devastation.  My heart goes out to you and everyone else


  4. I imagine it hurts quite a bit for you to share these pictures. I sure hope the Feds do right by these folks.

    I assume that you are alright and away from the flooding?

  5. If a building remain in water for a period of days…it’s my understanding that is in effect destroyed…the foundation is destroyed and the building must be torn down of if possible the foundation rebuilt…but that’s not possible …or is it…

    By all appearances large parts of Iowa cities have been destroyed….

    Your not talking about “damage” but permanent destruction…just like New Orleans in terms of water damage…

    This not being reported and again there is no mention of Global Warming as a possible contributing factor….

  6. And thanks for the update and pictures – they are beautifully done for such an ugly tragedy.

  7. wow! Those are amazing shots fort.  Thanks for the report.  I’m glad you’re OK.

    Hang on Des Moines!  

    • robodd on June 17, 2008 at 07:46

    the older buildings at the U of Iowa are built up on a ridge.  There is wisdom in age.

    • kj on June 18, 2008 at 02:34

    you’re all in my thoughts. Wish i could have left work and helped sandbag.  It’s all everyone’s talking about here in Missouri.  They know what a bullet they’re going to miss with the northern stretch taking the brunt of water… and every levee that breaks north means less water south.

    Iowa needs to be named Person of the Year, imo.  So much water this year, from snows to spring rains, those rivers just had to burst.  And the tornadoes, good god.  

    Hang in there, I know you all are.  Tough, tough Midwesterners.  I know what you’re made of.

  8. and words …

    While glad to hear that you/your family are doing well, the images are striking.

    The houses against the bridge are particularly memorable and could become iconic for showing the power of flooding.

  9. This is a gigantic disaster…

    Its not really being reported as such.

    And it’s probably related to Global Warming.

    Global Warming….is never mentioned in the MSM….

    Global Warming is a gradual process and it makes it’s appearance exactly like this flooding along the missisisspi and this is happening ALL OVER THE WORLD…not just here….

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