Monday, June 9, 2008

Another American City Under Water

From one of the diaries at

Darrel in Iowa:

I am in Mason City. Our levees broke Sunday morning. Flood stage is 7 foot and waters are now at 19 feet. Hundreds of homes and businesses are underwater. The City's water plant was flooded and the entire city of 30,000 is without potable water. A couple of hours ago the main electric substation flooded and failed and much of the city is without power. People remain in flooded homes. Early tonight I saw people wandering the streets not knowing where to go. There are entrie areas of the city with NO emergency personnel on hand.

NOBODY from the outside has come to help. Our local first responders are exhausted and overwhelmed. Small rural towns downstream tonight are being devasted. Levees everywhere are failing. Calls for help in these small towns have been unmet. Portions of our local guard are in Iraq.

The homeland has been left unprotected and people are suffering horribly.

Pictures of the flooding:

Near Des Moines:

[One thing I've noticed is that, while searching for photos, there are many, many more people who want to shoot jerky, grainy, out of focus video with cheap phone cameras or with digital cameras. That's nice, but it looks like crap. The YouTube-ification of the world means photos are passe and crap video of shit that you sort of can make out is de rigueur. Hence, there are not many dramatic or decent photos. Besides, if your town is flooding, you are probably more interested in saving yourself than taking a picture we can reproduce here.]

Here is what they're saying in the local newspaper:

The Winnebago River made history Sunday and left misery in its wake.

The river, which weaves through Mason City, climbed to a record 18.57 feet, tumbling over its banks, flooding homes, forcing residents to evacuate, shutting down the city’s water treatment plant and closing all city restaurants.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, the river level was 18.57 feet; the previous record was 15.7 feet set in 1933. Flood stage is 7 feet.

Heavy rains late Saturday and early Sunday morning — more than 5 inches over the two-day period — started the river rising.

“It went from 13 to 17 feet very quickly,” said Brent Trout, Mason City’s city administrator. “We’re dealing with a record event here.”

Gov. Chet Culver issued a disaster declaration which covered 31 Iowa counties including Butler, Cerro Gordo, Franklin, Floyd and Worth in North Iowa.

The governor’s proclamation activates Iowa’s individual disaster assistance program. Additionally, federal agencies have been contacted, according to Culver’s office.

Late Sunday afternoon Mason City Mayor Roger Bang set a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., except for employment or essential purposes.

Residents were told that anyone in violation would be charged with refusal to obey orders.

As the river left its banks and the levy system failed, water made its way to basements, across roadways and a major evacuation effort ensued.

The Mason City fire and police departments used a boat to help residents from their already flooded homes.

Several hundred residents were also evacuated throughout the morning.

Officials did not have an exact number of homes that were evacuated, but said the evacuation appeared to be complete by mid-afternoon.

“We believe all the homes that need to be evacuated at this point, have been evacuated,” said Trout.

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