The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Spotlight: Water: It's going up....It's going down

Dessa, Quill Reporter

Flood Watch 2008:Waters on Highway 34 are expected to recede further this weekend in a more aggressive manner said County Chairman Marty Lafary and Drainage District #2 Commissioner Mark Ford.

The large pump at Carthage Lake has been put back into action Monday and the river's recent rise has flattened out today with the Corps predicting it to drop to 12.5 feet by Sunday Ford said.

Lafary said in Gulfport, he and commissioners checked the breach Tuesday and water was running back in, so they brought in a back-hoe and temporarily bridged up the breach they had made earlier last week. 

"We still have the series of pumps running there and when the river is a foot and a half lower, if the Corps predictions are right, we will reopen the levee Sunday and let the water siphon out. "

Lafary said there was close to 500 yards still on 34 with more than 8 inches on parts of it. There's water in the fields, but the road is in pretty good shape.

Emergency vehicles have traveled through the water on 34 to the hospital in Burlington, IA, but it isn't safe to open it yet. As water goes down, IDOT is working on the road.

"If Mother Nature would cooperate, it would be off by now," he said. "The big pump (at Carthage Lake) is holding the water back and keeping us from going any higher. When the river goes back down, you'll see a big difference real quick," he said. But, it is up to IDOT when the road will be opened..

Mark Ford of Carman said water dropped quite a bit when the trenches were dug open last week. And now with their big pump in operation, water is being pumped out at 100, gallons per minute. "It is our strongest pump," he explained. 

"We were in the hole before we started," he said when asked about their financial shape. We were in the process of raising the drainage district tax from $20 an acre to $40, he said. It cost us $60,000 to fill our two tanks (a 10,000 and a 12,000 tank). We had three tanker loads brought in to fill them," he said. "We lost one tank in the flood, he said, and a supply of fuel will last a week to 10 days.

"We applied for help through FEMA, he said, "which is on a cost share basis with FEMA paying the biggest share, which we hope to receive."

Ford said cutting the five trenches in the river was the cheapest way to go, but once we get the water down to a certain level, we have to pump the rest.  He said Highway 34 will be open before the Carman blacktop which he predicts will be another couple of weeks at best.

When the river is at 12 1/2 water will drain out, "but anything over 14 feet, we don't want to see that," Ford said.

The Carman road is just low, but Lafary predicts the roads will clear once the river is down. He said, "With the river pulling it, it will siphon water right out of there."

Lafary said, that he was able to make connections with the Matteson Barge Co. in Burlington when the flood first happened, and Larry the owner, said he would do anything to help. He called him and he agreed to pull a barge over to Carthage Lake and keep their pumps fueled and IEMA is going to take care of the fuel cost. 

As far as Gulfport, he said they were having a town meeting at 7 p.m. July 28th at the Gladstone Health Department. Ed Ronner, a former Gulfport mayor, is the acting Mayor after the death of their former Mayor. Lake Stevenson and homes in Gulfport still have water around them, and there is a lot of decisions to be made.

He said, Carl Adam of Macomb who owns Ayerco station is coming back and are presently cleaning up their station and putting up dry-wall. 

"This will be a plus for the area," Lafary said, who has offered to help Adams in whatever way he can. "I am tickled he is coming back and feel it will be good for our county."

In making decisons in a disaster like this, Lafary said there are a lot of things you are going to second guess, but you have to make a decision. I've tried to do the best I can and ask myself what I can do? You make mistakes.

I found you make a lot of connections with people, and you meet a lot of people, and you apologize to a lot of people, too. Sometimes you get tired and short, and said things you shouldn't have said, and then you meet a lot of politicans who just want their picture taken.

Lafary said, there is still a lot of work to do. "I won't be happy until it is all done and everyone is better off than before this happened."