Burlington Crews Prepare for More Flooding - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Burlington Crews Prepare for More Flooding

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Across the QCA, concerns about flooding continue as river levels continue to rise.

The Mississippi River at Burlington, Iowa, is expected to crest at 18.6 feet this weekend. That's major flood stage.

Public Works crews have been busy preparing.

"We don't want to lose our valuable assets, that being the auditorium and the lift station," said Steve Hoambrecker, director of Burlington Public Works.

Water is already lapping at the barriers around the Market Street lift station and coming up in a tunnel underneath the Memorial Auditorium.

Those two building are at high risk when the river rises and bear the marks of water damage from floods past.

One flood, which hit upwards of 26 feet, left a distinct line across the bottom of an old photograph of the river that hanging three or four feet off the ground on the first level of the auditorium.

"It did get this high in the building in the past when we weren't able to protect it like we are doing now," Hoambrecker explained.

About a dozen city employees spent Tuesday putting up hesco barriers around the auditorium and the lift station.

For the first time, they were using a conveyor belt to fill them with sand.

"What we did today, I think, took us about seven hours, and, doing it with the loaders like we've done in the past, it probably could have taken several days," Hoambrecker said.

Now, it's a game of watching and waiting to see how much higher the river will go. The city has plenty more hesco barriers that can be installed if it needs to.

"Our plan is that we will not do much more than what we have now unless it is predicted to go over 20 feet," Hoambrecker said.

That level is certainly not unheard of:

"I think three of the crests last year were three of the top 12 ever in Burlington," Hoambrecker recalled.

Last year's floods threatened the annual Steamboat Days celebrations and nearly sent water into the Port of Burlington building.

Comparatively, the impact from this flood will likely be pretty minimal.

"Fishing isn't very good now," observed one Burlington resident, Mark Hootman, who was enjoying the weather at the Burlington riverfront Tuesday.

"And the boat docks are hard to get in and out of," he added.

And, with the water coming up through storm drains in some low-lying parking lots, things like the weekly farmers market will likely have to move to higher ground.

"That parking lot is in process of being flooded, and with another foot of water, it will be out of use probably by Thursday, definitely by the weekend," Hoambrecker said.

That's no surprise. This kind of flooding - even the major floods expected by the time the river crests - a fact of life here on the Mississippi.

"That's part of living here. I mean you learn to accept it," Hootman said.

"It is expected. Every year," another Burlington resident, Josh Salden, laughed.

Across the QCA in river communities, crews have taken steps to get ahead of the current flooding, installing pumps and closing gate wells days ago.


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