Waterloo city crews put flood plan into action - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo city crews put flood plan into action


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- City engineers are beginning to put their flood plans into action. Around eleven Thursday morning Waterloo city crews closed the floodgates on Fletcher Avenue. They border the area between University Avenue and Highway 63.

The National Weather Service calls for the floodgates to go up when the river rises above 13 feet. The city decided to put them in place early, knowing the river is expected to crest several feet above this level. It's created a bit of a hassle for many drivers, but workers from the City Engineer's office would rather cause a little inconvenience now, than to find themselves rushing to protect these homes.

"It's a balancing act. We want to be prepared and have things ready to go, but we don't want to wait until the last minute either," said Associate Engineer Jaime Knutson.

Knutson doesn't want to imagine the flooding problems they'd face on the busy roads nearby without the gates on Fletcher Avenue. But they aren't as strong as they once were.

"They've been here 35 years. Steel gates that size, with all the water on them bend, they don't seal perfectly anymore," he explained.

The gates are scheduled for repair in the next few months. For now, a wall of sandbags and plastic will keep the neighborhood from rising water. The next step, is for the crews to start closing down the storm drains, and placing temporary pumps around the city.

"You shut off all the storm sewer into the river, then start getting rains, the water can't get out. So then you have localized street flooding where we have to set up portable pumps all over town," said Knutson.

Knutson knew this week's above-average temperatures would lead to flooding problems. But, he said, that comes with the territory.

"It's one of those things. I've been here since '94, you learn that every spring you're going to have some flooding. It's just how much and how quick," Knutson noted.

The city is not planning to install the floodgates downtown over weekend. The river would have to climb well above 21 feet before they would take those precautions. However, you might see smaller temporary barriers on the sidewalks and low-lying areas along the river.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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