Manchester business evacuates ahead of flooding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Manchester business evacuates ahead of flooding

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After Mother Nature dumped 5.5 inches of rain on Manchester and the surrounding area Wednesday night, several Main Street businesses face the threat of flooding.

In the light of Thursday morning, it turns out the flood preparations employees of Smitty's Tire and Appliance executed Wednesday night were not in vain.

Max Boren owns Smitty's Tire and Appliance. His younger son, also named Max Boren, works at the shop.

Loading and unloading appliances was not how the younger Boren planned on spending his Wednesday evening.

"Try and enjoy a movie, I had to go to the basement there for a tornado," Boren said, wheeling an appliance off a truck Wednesday night. "Then got a call saying, 'Come down to the store,' so, never good when I hear that."

Smitty's Tire and Appliance has been a Main Street staple since 1955. With the water of the Maquoketa River rising toward flood stage Wednesday evening, the older Boren made a decision.

"It might be enough to get water, it might not be, but we don't want to take a chance and have to come down at three in the morning and, you know, all of a sudden it's like, 'Yikes, we haven't got enough time!'" he said Wednesday, as crews moved equipment out of the auto shop.

The Maquoketa River has flooded Smitty's a total of not once, not twice-- but seven times, not including 2013, and all of those have been since 1999. The worst was in July of 2010, when water reached the tops of the showroom microwaves and mold damage meant a whole new ceiling.

"Some guys are famous for never missing a free-throw or never missing a putt. I'm the flood guy, and it's not a name I ever really wanted to have," Boren said.

By now, the Smitty's crew is a well-oiled machine when it comes to flood preparations. Some 200 appliances go to higher ground in a building next door, the auto shop's seven hoists get raised and a dozen people work late into the night preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

"If we get flooded again tonight or tomorrow, it's going to be horrible and we're going to have to deal with it, but everybody who works here gets to go home to a dry house," Boren said. "Too many people that get flooded, it's their homes."

He may be fighting an uphill battle, but Boren keeps it all in perspective.

Flood stage on the Maquoketa River in Manchester at US Highway 20 is 14 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Boren said anything 16 feet and higher poses a real threat of flooding his business.

By 6:45 Thursday morning, the river had hit a high point of 19.31 feet, just 8.28 inches away from the major flood category. By then, water is well over the stretch of Main Street between Franklin Street and the bridge over the river.

The 2010 flood was 24.48 feet. Three of Smitty's four floods in 2008 were just over 20 feet. One of them was just 18.95 feet, below Thursday morning's Maquoketa River level.

To track the National Weather Service's monitoring of the Maquoketa River at US Highway 20 in Manchester, click HERE.

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