CLINTON — Iowa DNR officials released a statement Wednesday advising boaters to avoid traveling south on the Mississippi River between Clinton and the Missouri border.
Two people were towed from the Mississippi River on Tuesday after the 18-foot-long runabout they were operating lost power from an overheated engine.
The disabled boat began drifting down the river at a rapid pace, with no control over where it went in the strong current.
The Mississippi River level at Rock Island is 2.4 feet above flood stage, and the high water is moving fast. Downstream, the river level is even higher, authorities said.
“We are advising against boating on the Mississippi River from Clinton down to the Missouri border until the water level drops several more feet, and that could take weeks,” DNR State Conservation Officer Ed Kocal said.
Upstream near McGregor, the river is just below floodstage, leaving no sandbars or places for boats to tie up.
Boaters heading out on the upper pools should use extreme caution and check with local marinas ahead of time to make sure their ramps are open, in the event that the river dictates a change in plans.
Flooding isn’t restricted to the Mississippi River. The Cedar and Iowa rivers in southeast Iowa are also above flood stage and caution is urged on those rivers as well.
The high water is the result of flash flooding that passed through northeast Iowa last week.
Debris washed into the river from the rain combined with little water clarity and a strong current makes for a hazardous situation.
Natural Resources Section Park Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gary Swenson said it is not a matter of when the high levels go down, but when the water clears up.
"Until the debris starts to get hung up along the banks and it ceases to be hazardous, I would not recommend any one go out. If (people) do, I strongly suggest wearing lifejackets," Swenson said.