MUSCATINE — All eyes are on the rivers as heavy rain is expected through Sunday for the eastern part of the state.
“We’re waiting and watching,” Muscatine Public Works Director Brian Stineman said. “We’re ready, but we haven’t done anything yet.”
The latest situation report issued Wednesday by the National Weather Service out in the Quad-Cities read major flooding is forecast on the Cedar, Iowa and Wapsipinicon rivers with moderate flooding on the lower Rock and Mississippi rivers over the next several days.
Despite the warnings of flooding along the rivers, city officials aren’t worried. Past experience and preparation have helped cities like Muscatine and Columbus Junction prevent major disasters from wreaking havoc.
Following the flood of 2008, the levee outside of Columbus Junction was raised about 10 feet to help prevent any future flooding. The city sits at the confluence of the Cedar and Iowa rivers but even with major flooding expected for both in the coming day, Mayor Mark Huston isn't worried.
"I think we're all right for now," he said.
City officials, and representatives from the schools, Tyson and IDOT will meet to discuss a plan of action if the rivers crest over the weekend, Huston said, which is his main concern.
"We've been through it enough, they're not much of an event," he said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District Office is also monitoring the area. “We use the National Weather Service predictions to see what might affect our projects,” Public Affairs Officer Allen Marshall said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Corps reported the Mississippi River level was at 14.85 feet through its RiverGages website and was expected to rise 1.15 feet over the following 24 hours. The rise would put the river at 16 feet, which is flood stage in the area four miles downstream of Lock and Dam 16. The record level in that area is 25.61 feet in July 1993. RiverGages is a Corps managed website that features data provided by the NWS. Marshall said the website is updated regularly based on new data received from NWS.
Should a crisis arise due to flooding, Marshall said an emergency operations center is available to respond. The Corps sends flood engineers to affected areas to analyze the situation and cities may request flood materials from the Corps.
"It's not there yet but with Mother Nature that could change on a dime," he said.
The Muscatine Ranger Office reported Kilpeck Landing and Ferry Landing recreation areas closed due to flooding. Blanchard Island near Illinois City is also closed. Clark’s Ferry and Shady Creek are open but the boat ramp at Clark’s Ferry is closed and sites 20-22 at Shady Creek are closed.
Stineman said Muscatine is in good shape until the water level surpasses 17 feet due to the levee and the rise in elevation of Mississippi Drive. One area that the department is paying close attention to is Mad Creek. If water in that area rises high enough it could flood into HNI, he said and the flood gate at 2nd Street may be closed to prevent water from spilling over. Deciding to close roads or place other flood barriers is a balancing act, Stineman said and advised drivers to take precaution in flooded areas.
NWS Quad-Cities also issued a flash flood watch that will continue through the weekend and the report read moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Gordon will travel over the region this week, with additional heavy precipitation that could produce 1-2 inches of rain per hour in some areas.