They're rising to the occasion

2013-04-18T18:00:00Z They're rising to the occasionJoe Jarosz 563-262-0526 joe.jarosz@muscatinejournal.com Muscatine Journal

MUSCATINE, Iowa — If your commute has detours or your basement is ruined, follow Milli Vanilli's advice and blame it on the rain.

As waters rise on area rivers, city and county governments are taking precautionary measures, including street closures and filling sandbags.

Randy Howell, street maintenance supervisor for Muscatine, said "We're setting the signs where they will be posted, but they're not up yet," Howell said. "Road closed" and "detour" signs have been placed in preperation on Mississippi Drive, from Linn Street to Iowa Avenue as well as near the Mad Creek Bridge on East Second St.

Howell said that along with preparing for flooding, the Public Works Department was also monitoring the weather, especially around Mad Creek.He said it was possible the floodgates on Second Street would be moved into place sometime Friday.

"The water came up quite a bit [Wednesday night] and we don't want water to come over the bridge," Howell said.

Howell has also had to contact the Iowa Department of Transportation about signage along the Douglas King Memorial Expressway and HNI Corp. and the H.J. Heinz Com. about rerouting trucks, and the railroad system about possible track closures.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Keith White, Muscatine County engineer, said there were 18 county roads closed. He said the number will probably go down Thursday night, but will then rise again once the Cedar River begins to rise. White said the Cedar River is projected to crest at around 17.5 feet at the Conesville gate where the flood stage is 15 feet.

"If it [the crest forcast] holds true, it'll be just short of the 2008 record," White said, adding that if it goes as high as predicted, it could go past the major flood stage.

White said the Cedar River, located just west of Moscow in Muscatine County, doesn't typically get high enough to affect the town.

"Mainly dead-end, lower lying farm land is affected," White said. "We pretty much expect [the water] to be out on lower lying roads. Hopefully it doesn't get high enough to affect significant highways."

Both Howell and White believe city and county residents know how to handle situations like this.

"Residents just need to watch the city's website, read the paper and listen to the radio for updates and monitor the weather," Howell said.

"Most either sandbag or evacuate. That's about all your protective measures," White said. "If a road is closed, you don't know for sure what's there and you're putting yourself at risk driving through water. The signs are there to protect everyone."

Matthew Shook, new Muscatine County Emergency Management Director, said he is currently working with the City of West Liberty and the Quad Cities Red Cross about setting up a distribution center to hand out flood clean-up kits once the water clears and residents can maneuver around town.

"At least 80 people in West Liberty have suffered flood damage to their basements," Shook said. "The Red Cross is also available to help anyone who may need shelter for the night."

To contact the Quad Cities Red Cross, call 309-743-2166.

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