Thanks to early warnings and well coordinated efforts, the city of Ames escaped the latest round of flooding without too many bruises.
"I am extremely proud of how the city pulled together to deal with these floods," said Clair Bills, city public relations officer for Ames.
Yesterday's flood, although it does not compare to the widespread flooding of 1993, was probably the second largest in the Ames/Story County area, said John Feld of the National Weather Service.
Bills reported the crest height to be about 15 feet for Squaw Creek and 14 feet for the North Skunk River, which are the third highest cresting for those waterways.
The South Skunk set an all-time record for high water with 15.9 feet, which is 6 inches above the previous record.
Feld said the the rain was concentrated around the four corners of Boone, Story, Hamilton and Hardin Counties. Feld also said the rain that fell across this area was between 5 and 8 inches, with the highest recorded level in Roland at 7.95 inches.
"The rivers crested through Ames and the water will continue southward and flood some of northeast Polk County around Colfax," Feld said.
Feld said the flood waters should gradually begin to taper off as the water runs farther south and is absorbed by the land.
The floods were handled effectively thanks to the early warning the city gave to residents.
"The credit goes to our water department head Tom Newman who was able to give us computer projections based on models of the water flow," Bills said.
"[City Water Department staff members] used a sophisticated computer program based on many flood experiments the water department has compiled to project the level of the flood. Once we knew how high the rivers would go, we could prepare accordingly," she said.
Bills also gave credit to the Ames Flood Command Center and its ability to organize more than 100 volunteers to keep the flood waters at bay.
Several area business owners credited the city with giving them enough warning to prepare for the flood and providing them with sandbags.
"They've done a super job keeping us informed," Larry Stevenson, Save-U-More store manager, said. "They've done a great job. They provided us with sand and helped get volunteers to build the levies against the rising water level."
Stevenson said the water went up less than 6 inches against the sand bags. No water made it inside the building and all the food remained uncontaminated.
Save-U-More did suffer some damage to its external garden area but, "even that was minimal," Stevenson said.
However, Hoe's Welding, 811 S. Duff, had about 1.5 feet of water in the parking lot and outside work area.
"We probably lost about one or two thousand [dollars], but it was nothing compared to the flood of '93," Jim Hoe, owner of Hoe's Welding, said. "We can actually still do business."
Bills said the main damage was done to Ames and Story County public works. "A number of roads, parks and golf courses have taken a hit," she said, "but not a lot of big, expensive buildings were hit like the flood of '93."
Chris Heilskov, 328 S. Russell Ave., said the city had informed him of the flood risk to his home at 3 a.m. Heilskov and his wife were able to move all their valuable possessions to the upper floors of the house and prepare for what could have been the worst. Fortunately for the couple, their home was not flooded.
"We didn't lose any of our possessions, but we did lose a lot of sleep," Heilskov said.
During the floods of 1993, 328 S. Russell was severely damaged. After that flood, the basement was filled with sand and holes were drilled in the foundation so the house would be able to tolerate being so near to the river.
"If it can take 8 inches of rain, it's gonna take a damn tornado to knock it down," Heilskov said.
Jennifer Rivenburg, 313 S. Russell, said her house was almost flooded but escaped the rising water.
"It came up to the back basement windows, but didn't actually enter the basement," she said.
The flood waters threatened Iowa State but, as of Monday evening, no damage had been done to any ISU building. The fields around the Lied Recreation Center and the New Richardson Court Association were severely flooded and the basketball camp being help in the Rec Center was moved to another building. However, no structures were damaged, although the New RCA complex was sand-bagged in case the waters rose enough to threaten the building.
Hilton Coliseum, the Scheman Continuing Education Building and the Iowa State Information Center were also sand-bagged, but the flood waters did not rise enough to pose any serious threat to the buildings.
Feld said the danger of additional flooding over the next few days is not great, but by the end of the week the weather patterns are going to change to scattered thunderstorms. By then, the water levels should recede enough for the waterways to handle more rain.