Dubuque prepping for flood, despite lower prediction - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque prepping for flood, despite lower prediction

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The National Weather Service is forecasting lower flood predictions along the Mississippi River than originally projected.

Still, a task force of Dubuque officials are meeting at least once a week, to review and enact flood preparations.

The railroad bridge at the Port of Dubuque is one of the locations where the National Weather Service measures the Mississippi River level. When it hits 20.5 feet at that spot, that's considered major flood stage.

Earlier this month, the NWS was predicting a 91 percent chance the river would hit that sometime in April. That has since dropped down to a 67 percent chance, but, still, Dubuque city leaders are preparing for a flood.

The US Coast Guard has moved its vessel out of Dubuque's Ice Harbor, since the city closed the flood gates and is pumping out water.

"Well there's still a chance, yeah," Dubuque city spokesperson Randy Gehl said. "We're really dependent upon how much precipitation happens north of here in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and, again, the freeze-thaw cycles, too, we'll be dependent upon that. If we get a real warm stretch, that could accelerate some continued melting."

Dubuque's 6.5-mile long flood wall protects much of the city, but a new civic structure is on the other side of the wall: the Mystique Community Ice Center, home of the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The center's front doors are at 29.5 feet, which is well about the historic 1965 crest of 26.8 feet, but a lot of the ice center's parking spots sit lower than the front doors. Gehl said the city has prepared for that.

"The City Council approved $300,000 for the purchase of almost 10,000 feet of HESCO flood barriers," Gehl said. "We'll be able to use those in a number of locations, including the Mystique Ice Arena, as well as some sanitary sewer lift stations and some other city properties and assets that we'll need to protect in case the waters do continue to rise."

The city has its pump stations ready and is stockpiling sandbags, just in case the flood levels call for it.

Gehl said the water pollution control plant is well above predicted flood levels, but two of its lift stations may be impacted. In that case, he said, the city will sandbag around them.

Dubuque is not, however, supplying residents with sandbags. Gehl said the city is working to protect public property and municipal utilities.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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