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Flood Prep Continues

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flood Advisory Update: The Linn County Emergency Management Agency has provided the following information to the Chamber for distribution to our members:  The 1st, 3rd, 12th, and 16th Avenue bridges are now closed.  Bridges on 2nd and 8th Avenues will be closed by 8:00pm this evening.  The only way to get across the river will be on the I-380 Bridge or across the Highway 30 Bridge near Highway 13.  Mid-American Energy has shut off gas to all businesses and residences in the 100 year flood plain and will soon extend that shut-off to customers in the 500 year flood plain.

As of 1:00 pm, Alliant Energy continues to manage the current flooding and prepare for the forecast increases. Pumps located in the downtown area continue to operate well with the current water levels.  However, Alliant is preparing the downtown system (located between the river to 8th Street SE to the east and from the River to 5th Avenue to the south) to operate at higher water levels. With the historic nature and length of the flooding predicted; it is not possible to assure that the downtown system will continue to operate normally. The system is designed to work even when underground vaults are flooded, but flooding could reduce the reliability of the system. As a result, businesses located in the downtown business district are strongly encouraged to initiate their contingency plans for the loss of electric service. If flooding is occurring in a downtown office building, the facility manager is encouraged to disconnect their electrical systems for safety.The city will be starting mandatory evacuations in the 500 year flood plain shortly.  As a precautionary measure, if your business falls in between 10th Street east and 10th Street west, you may want to consider voluntarily closing your business tomorrow and Friday for the safety of your clients and your employees.  Parking will be severely limited in the downtown area over the next few days.

Businesses are starting to close down to help with filling sand bags.

I send out an email stating: WE NEED YOU TO WALK THROUGH ANY AREAS YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF THAT ARE IN THE BASEMENT AND MAKE SURE THERE IS NOTHING ON THE FLOOR – NO CARDBOARD BOXES, NO COLLECTIONS, ETC.  METAL OR STEEL ITEMS CAN REMAIN ON THE FLOOR. I’ve had to haul out wet, muddy, soggy, icky empty cardboard boxes. It is no fun. (More “fun” than full, wet soggy boxes.)

We met with David McClain, Water Utilities Engineer from Facilities Management, to discuss flood levels and options for protecting the Main Library. David brought an elevation map with him and current flood level projections. His figures show us at high risk of flooding. The area of greatest concern is the drain at the bottom of the loading dock. This drain feeds directly to the river. As flood waters rise, water will eventually emerge through this drain. I believe we’re all in agreement that we need to have sandbags in place in the loading dock area and that we need to remove items from the bottom shelves in special collections area in the basement. We’ll finalize plans tomorrow (as much as one can finalize plans in this type of situation!). We have a phone tree and monitoring in place and are working on contingency plans.

Library staff started moving Special Collections bottom shelf material around 1PM. Some items will be placed on top of items on the top shelf; others will go to the 5th room lounge in south area of library. Joel will coordinate and use student help. Based on experience this afternoon, he’ll determine whether to call for additional help tomorrow.

The UI Museum of Art needs 6 volunteers to help move some of the collections out of the Museum as a precaution against the rising river level. Jeff needs helpers with experience in handling objects and/or lifting and moving heavy boxes as there isn’t time to fully train first-timers! Kristin Baum, assistant conservator, volunteered to help. 
We buy bought boots for Jennifer on the way home. They are out of Randy’s size.