A number of farmers and others who live in the bottomland areas along the Missouri River on Iowa's western edge are being threatened by very serious flooding as a result of the rising river. Several days ago Iowa officials began warning residents of these low-lying areas that they should begin moving their household possessions, farm machinery, stored grain, livestock and other valuables to higher ground.
Many farmers and residents in these areas have begun the moving job, and more need to do so, say Iowa officials. "Agricultural producers in those locations can and should prepare for flooding now," says Stephanie Bond, public information officer for the Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management agency, headquartered at Camp Dodge, just north of Des Moines.
Flooding will worsen in weeks ahead as reservoirs are released
Flooding will worsen in the weeks ahead when the deluge of water flowing down the Missouri River from the north surpasses record levels, officials say. The Missouri River will reach 5 to 7 feet above flood stage at most locations in Iowa by mid-June, and some areas could remain inundated with water for several months, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A Sioux City fire department spokesman said volunteers were being recruited to help fill 15,000 sandbags on Tuesday May 31. Most of the flooding so far has affected just farm fields in low-lying areas near cities such as Sloan, Council Bluffs and Hamburg.
Producers in the threatened areas need to prepare for flooding
The Army Corps is preparing for record releases of water from reservoirs in South Dakota and other areas upstream. The Corps on May 27 began warning of potential flooding along much of the Missouri River. The upper reaches of the river basin in Montana and the Dakotas received a year's worth of rain in the past month alone, and snowmelt has run 140% of normal this spring.
"Producers in extreme Western Iowa may face flooding issues with projected crests along the Missouri River over the next two weeks," says Bond. "However, there is time to secure valuable farm infrastructure and minimize damage."
The Multi-State Partnership for Security in Agriculture and Iowa State University Extension have published a preparedness guide for multiple hazards, including floods. If a producer faces imminent flooding, preparation tips include:
• Secure structurally unstable materials (e.g. fuel and fertilizer tanks, lumber, logs, equipment).
• Keep surface water out of your well by sealing the well cap, and top of the well casing with heavy plastic and duct tape.
• Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close gas valves.
• Turn off electrical power, gas and water supplies.
• Leave building doors and windows open at least 2 inches to equalize pressure and help prevent buildings from shifting.
• If possible, move motors and portable electric equipment to a dry location.
For a more complete flood preparedness checklist for farmers, visit www.prep4agthreats.org/Assets/Factsheets/Floods-and-Your-Farm.pdf. For information on other hazards and natural disasters, see www.prep4agthreats.org.