The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 12, 2014

Wapsi creeps over its banks

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — A flood warning threatened the banks of the Wapsipinicon River on Tuesday, but area flood management teams aren’t too concerned just yet.

The National Weather Service issued the 24-hour, minor flood warning at approximately 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, expecting the river to crest at 11.2 feet before falling below the 11-foot flood stage by Wednesday.

Although the water was expected to affect some county roads, Secondary Road Superintendent Donn Holst said he wasn’t too worried about the projected forecast.

“As far as right now I don’t think it’s out of its banks yet,” Holst said Tuesday afternoon. “So we’re kind of on standby.”

His biggest concern Tuesday was opening up crossroad tubes throughout the county that were either frozen or jammed with debris and ice before the Wapsi hit its expected crest.

As of late Tuesday, secondary roads crews were able to clear nearly all the crossroad tubes in the county, leaving only about two that caused water to flow over lightly traveled gravel or paved roads.

“We went around with backhoes where we usually have problems to clean out the tubes and I’d say by now we might only have one or possibly two spots in the county where the water is going over the road,” Holst said. “But it’s not yet causing an issue.”

While Tuesday’s flood warning didn’t cause turmoil for Clinton County, it did ignite the realization that spring is on the horizon and expecting the Wapsi to experience substantial flooding is inevitable.

Chance Kness, Clinton County Emergency Management coordinator, said he always monitors the Wapsi’s flooding trends but added there is little he has done in the past in the way of prevention or assistance.

Because the Wapsi typically floods several times a year, people who reside along its banks understand the risks and have adapted their lives to accommodate what Mother Nature brings their way.

“Even when we get up into those major (flood) events like 13.5 (feet) or 13.8 (feet), there are residents in the Lost Nation area that are surrounded by water for weeks at a time,” Kness said. “A lot of those people, because it happens so often, they’re not really affected by it. It doesn’t seem to bother them too much.”

As the temperature increases and the snow continues to melt, flooding on the Wapsi River is bound to happen. Kness said Tuesday’s event came in at about the 114th most severe flood event historically, “unconcerning” to him and others involved in flood recovery.

Those heavy flood stages are expected to happen soon though, and Holst hopes that it will be a slow and steady increase as the snow melts and the spring rains arrive.

“There’s a lot of variables that we have to prepare for,” Holst said. “We’re feeling good about the Wapsi as of now but that doesn’t mean that it can’t change in a matter of days. It would be nice if the ice would get broken up so we could get the water flowing through evenly and give it time to spread out.”