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.