River rapidly rising, roads rapidly deteriorating

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

The snow is finally melting away, leaving a mess in its wake.

Snow melt and rainfall over the next several days are expected to lead to higher water levels along the Cedar River and all tributaries.

As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a flood warning, the Floyd County Secondary Roads Department is urging drivers of large vehicles to stay off gravel roads, and the Charles City School District has announced it is implementing its “Buses Where Possible” procedure.

The NWS issued a flood warning for the Cedar River at Charles City, from Friday morning to late Friday night. Minor flooding is forecast throughout the area of the Cedar River, which is rapidly rising.

The river stage was at 4.4 feet Wednesday evening, and by 10:30 a.m. Thursday the stage had more than doubled to 8.9. Flood stage is 12.0 feet. The river is expected to rise to near or slightly above that level by Friday morning.

At flood stage, barricading of streets begins, and the intersection of Riverside and North Illinois Streets may be flooded. The cable pedestrian bridge will also be closed.

A flood watch as been issued for all of northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western and central Wisconsin until further notice. The NWS reports that runoff from rain and snow melt will result in rises on many rivers and streams, along with an increased threat for ice jams.

Flooding is anticipated on many of the waterways. In addition, urban and street flooding could occur from clogged storm sewers, with additional hazards from debris on roads.

The flood risk may extend well into the weekend, though colder temperatures should reduce the risk for urban and poor drainage flooding.

People who reside near waterways should closely monitor conditions and be prepared to take action if flooding develops, the NWS said.

Those who live in a threatened area should be ready to move to higher ground if necessary. The NWS also reminds drivers to not drive cars into flooded areas. It only takes two feet of water to float most automobiles, including sport utility vehicles.

Due to rapidly melting snows and forecasted rains, the Floyd County Secondary Roads Department is requesting that heavy equipment and large vehicles avoid gravel roads until conditions improve. Drivers of all vehicles should use extreme caution when on gravel roads as conditions are rapidly deteriorating, making travel hazardous in many areas.

The Charles City School District is on spring break this week, but the district announced Thursday that it is implementing its “Buses Where Possible” procedure, starting next Monday and until country roads are passable.

The district announced that if a bus can not travel a route, the CCSD transportation center will call the family. The family will then have the options of driving the children to school themselves, having the district send a driver to pick up the students when it is safe, or having the students marked excused for the day.

Anyone with concerns or questions is asked to contact the transportation center at 641-257-6590.

According to an Associated Press report, authorities say a school bus with 10 students on board went into a roadside ditch on an icy gravel road southwest of Osage on Wednesday. The Iowa State Patrol said one person was taken to a hospital as a precaution after the accident.