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flooding file

Flooding last May at Muscatine's riverfront.

MUSCATINE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO

MUSCATINE — Flood season could bring some new challenges in Muscatine this year, according to Public Works Director Brian Stineman.

At Thursday night's Muscatine City Council meeting, Stineman presented the city's plan for preventing and responding to flooding during the spring and summer months.

"Some of this may change with Mississippi Drive (construction)," Stineman said. "We may have some different options in our next flood fight when Mississippi drive is completed."

According to the National Weather Service, the Mississippi River at Muscatine was its highest in July 1993, when it reached 25.6 feet. The river's flood stage in Muscatine is 16 feet.

While the river has yet to reach that level again, flooding has been common during summers in downtown Muscatine. Last year, consistent rain and flooding caused some delays to the $8 million Mississippi Drive construction project.

This summer, Stineman said the city will be watching river levels to see how it impacts the newly constructed portion of the road.

When the river is higher than 18 feet, Stineman said water tends to cover the parking lot at the Riverview Center on the riverfront. In the past, flood water also would come out of the storm sewer inlet at Walnut Street.

"This is going to change after Mississippi Drive construction; we've raised the elevation (at Walnut Street)," Stineman said. "At this point we think we'll get to flood at about 20 feet without having water come out of that."

With a higher elevation, Stineman expects flood water to pool at Walnut and Sycamore streets.

"That'll be a determination from Public Works: Should we pump it? Where do we pump it to if we get that high?" he said. "We're discussing that now so we have a plan in place."

At 18.3 feet, Stineman said flood water enters the Riverview Center's basement, and usually extends to the center median on Iowa Avenue.

"This is another thing we're going to have to check on this year to see if that actually happens with changes on Mississippi Drive," he said.

In previous years, the city would close the entire Mississippi Drive when the river rises more than 19 feet. With the reconstruction project, he hopes the road can remain open until the Mississippi reaches 19.5 feet or more.

Stineman expects this flood season to be a learning experience for the city.

"The goal for the winter, with the road constructed, is to redo our flood plan," he said. "It's a few years old and we'll do that in the coming winter months when that construction is over."

In preparation for potential flooding this spring, Stineman said the public works department is making sandbags, which are available to the public.

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