The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 19, 2013

Water woes: Rainfall causes damage at Clinton's library

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — The basement of the Clinton Public Library has sustained significant water damage due to the 3.49 inches of rain the Clinton area received Wednesday and Thursday.

When Library Director Amy Birtell arrived at the library's main branch Thursday morning she discovered her office and other areas of the basement flooded along with an elevator shaft filled with 4 feet of water. Birtell also found the water that covered the basement floor was swirled with red hydraulic fluid from the elevator.

'It looked almost like a modern art piece the way it was swirled around everywhere," Birtell said. "It almost looked like blood."

City of Clinton and fire department employees removed some of the water and placed absorbent peat moss on it in an effort to fix some of the problems, but Birtell fears how much damage was caused by the flooding. The carpet in her office will need to be removed, she said. Inspectors will need to determine what drywall needs to be removed and how to replace many cracked and bulging asbestos tiles, damages attributed to the rain.

"This is going to be a big expense for us to clean this up," Birtell said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Birtell was waiting for a crew to inspect the elevator. The inspection costs $4,000, let alone the cost to fix it.

Birtell hopes to have the main and upstairs levels of the library, which did not sustain any water damage, open depending on how they are affected by the clean-up efforts in the basement. The Root Cellar will remain closed for at least a couple of days, she said.

The rain Wednesday and Thursday contributed to the much-wetter-than-usual April the Clinton area is experiencing. Clinton-area weather observer Jim Blaess reported the area received 2.16 inches of rain on Wednesday; by Thursday afternoon another 1.33 inches had fallen.

In the month of April, the area has received 7.05 inches of rain, more than double the normal 2.90 for the month. This April so far is the fourth wettest on record with more rain expected before the month's end.

Cities along area rivers made preparations for the rising water levels that follow an excessive amount of rain. Thursday, Clinton workers installed the floodgates along the Mississippi River at Ninth Avenue North. According to Water Quality Superintendent Dan Riney, the flood gates are installed when the river is predicted to rise to 16.5 feet.

"It's a pretty rare year when we don't install the floodgates at least once," Riney said.

The Mississippi River at Camanche is considered at flood stage when it measures 17 feet, which it reached by Thursday afternoon. The highest level it is expected to reach is 18.8 feet, which is predicted to occur on Saturday.

Riney said his department had received reports of some flooded streets and basements in Clinton. Ninth Street in Camanche was closed near Hazel Lake due to flooding and the city was offering sandbags to residents, but Camanche Public Works Director Dave Rickertsen said Camanche was not severely impacted by the rain.

"If the river gets above 20 feet, that's a game-changer," he said.

 

The stats In the month of April, the area has received 7.05 inches of rain, more than double the normal 2.90 for the month. This April so far is the fourth wettest on record with more rain expected before the month's end.