DES MOINES (AP) — Volunteers in Anamosa prepared sandbags Thursday as the Wapsipinicon River was expected to flood but fall short of an earlier prediction of a near-record high.
River forecasters predicted a 22.6-foot crest this afternoon, significantly below earlier expectations of 26 feet — which would have fallen just shy of the 2008 record.
Still, the river was well above its 14-foot flood stage at 21.2 feet Thursday.
Volunteers placed sandbags at the water treatment plant, manholes and homes, said Brenda Leonard, the Jones County emergency management coordinator. She expected downstream communities of Oxford Junction and Olin to see flooding, and many homes have been sandbagged as a precaution.
Most flooding will likely be in basements, she said.
“Hopefully it won't get into homes. Everybody's sandbagging like crazy,” she said.
Linn County Fair organizers canceled or moved events in Central City after Wednesday, the first day of the fair. The Wapsipinicon runs east of the fairgrounds.
A 12-year-old boy was rescued from the river northwest of Central City at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Linn County Sheriff's Office said.
The boy had waded into the river but couldn't get back to shore because of the swift current. A county conservation officer brought a boat and plucked the boy from the river.
The behavior of the Wapsipinicon upstream at Independence baffled National Weather Service flood forecasters because it didn't rise as expected Wednesday night.
The river reached 13.4 feet at 2 a.m. Thursday and was falling by 5 a.m. At 12 feet, some low-lying streets in Independence are affected, but the high point was significantly lower than the anticipated 21 feet. At 20 feet the city's three bridges are impassable and the city is cut into two communities.
Weather service meteorologist Andy Ervin said the heavy rain fell on Independence and flowed downstream past the city, averting the higher river levels that would have happened if the rain had fallen upstream.
Rick Wulfekuhle, the Buchanan County emergency management coordinator in Independence, said it was a relief.
“Fortunately, the rain stopped when it did. Mother Nature for once was kind to us,” he said. “We fared a lot better than we anticipated. The concern now is definitely downstream.”
Sandbags stockpiled for Independence are being sent downstream to other cities including Anamosa, a city of about 5,500 people.
Elsewhere in the state, flood warnings were issued for Burlington and Keokuk, where the Mississippi River caused some flooding as it works toward a crest next week.
At Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River climbed just above the 12-foot flood stage early Thursday and was rising to an expected high of 15.3 feet today. That means parks along the river will take on water.
At New Hartford, Beaver Creek fell below flood stage after a high of 15.2 feet Tuesday.
The forecast calls for a chance of showers in northeast Iowa today and isolated thunderstorms are a possibility Saturday but none is expected to cause new flooding, Ervin said. Sunday and Monday should be dry.
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