Coralville dam release increases amid flood concerns - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Coralville dam release increases amid flood concerns

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

Thundering water drew a crowd at the Coralville Lake Dam, or as 10-year-old Owen Griffin calls it, “A big ginormous waterfall thing.”

For him, the appeal is clear.

“It's like huge and splashing and like it goes up and down,” he said.

It's that same view that brought Brian Benest and his family out to the dam. They were there Wednesday afternoon, as Army Corps of Engineers increased the flow through the dam from 12,000 cubic feet per second to 15,000.

“It's interesting just to see the force that the water level has, and what it can do to the area around here,” Benest said.

Not long after, part of the park below the dam went underwater. Flooding like this is a major concern farther down the Iowa River in Iowa City and Coralville. Flood protections are in place around University of Iowa buildings, and more will be installed along the Iowa River Thursday.

Several neighborhoods faced forced evacuations in rural Johnson County. The Red Cross is prepared to shelter 100 people at an emergency facility on the Johnson County fairgrounds, but so far, it hasn't been necessary.

“Nobody's here!” said Leo Mork, Red Cross volunteer. Mork said the vacancy is a good sign that evacuees have other places to go, but the shelter is critical, just in case.

“Those folks that don't have the resources to find alternatives will need the shelter,” Mork said.

Back with Owen at the dam, he's just found out the Corps expects to increase flow to 20,000 fps by Friday, essentially, maximum capacity.

“It's going to get bigger?” he said, looking at the rushing water. “Wow. It's going to be really big then.”

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