IOWA CITY — With a few dry days forecast, Johnson County emergency officials say they won’t order any mandatory evacuations because of flooding.
An emergency operations center was opened Thursday — the first time since 2014 — because of initial concerns over the level of the Coralville Lake Reservoir, but Thursday might be the only day it’s open.
“This is a good-news press conference,” Dave Wilson, the county’s emergency management director, said Thursday. “In the metro area, we look very good.”
Some low-lying roads are closed in the county and a few people have voluntarily evacuated, but the Iowa River’s steady flow and a good forecast lessened flooding concerns, he said.
Earlier this week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it was increasing the outflow of the Coralville reservoir from 10,000 cubic feet per second to 12,000. Mandatory evacuations likely would have been necessary had the outflow moved to 13,000.
The reservoir’s water level isn’t expected to peak until Oct. 20, when it will be at about 96 percent of storage capacity.
Outflows aren’t expected to change, said Jonathan Wuebker with the Corps of Engineers.
On Thursday, the reservoir was at about 81 percent its capacity.
The county’s flood mitigation efforts were tested last weekend when flash flooding increased the river flow to 16,000 cubic feet per second at the Burlington Street gauge.
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Before the flood mitigation efforts taken after 2008, “it would’ve been a much different picture last Saturday in the city of Iowa City,” Wilson said.
Dubuque Street — which is being elevated 10 feet in a multiyear, $40.5 million project — remained open in Iowa City, and no HESCO sand barriers or other temporary flood walls were needed.
“Otherwise, we’ve had not a lot of impact countywide,” Wilson said. “It’s been disruptive to a few residents on rural traffic and through voluntary evacuations, but that’s really been it.”
While the typical flood season in Iowa is May through July, the Cedar River’s flood scare in Cedar Rapids in September 2016 was a wake-up call that fall can see major rainfall events as well, said Witek Krajewski, director of the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa.
“This is a gentle reminder, if you will, that things are happening outside of the traditional flood season,” Krajewski said.
“In the last few years, we’ve had flooding on Thanksgiving,” he said. “We’ve had rainfall in January. That’s just unheard of, but it did happen ... so now the flood season is year round.”
Voluntary evacuations are recommended for some areas of unincorporated Johnson County at Camino Del Rio SE, Driftwood Lane SE and Ocean Boulevard SE.
Johnson County Conservation closed both the Hills Access and the River Junction Access because of flash flooding and rising waters, according to a news release.
In Iowa City, both Lower City Park and CRANDIC Park are closed.
Road closures include:
• Taft Speedway, from 115 Taft Speedway to North Dubuque Street
• 140th Street west of Ely Road, at Lakeview OHV Park
• Sandy Beach at the beach
• Amana Road between Blain Cemetery and Greencastle Avenue
• Greencastle Avenue Level B, south of Amana Road
• Greencastle Avenue Level B, north of Swan Lake
• Swan Lake Road Level B, west of Half Moon Avenue
• Cosgrove Road south of Black Diamond Road at Old Man’s Creek
• Izaak Walton Road east of S&G Sand Plant, including Ocean, Driftwood and Camino Del Rio roads
• Sand Road south of 560th Street
• Sand Road north of Highway 22
• River Junction Road south of River Junction
• Tri County Bridge Road south of 670th Street
• Y Avenue south of Tri County Bridge Road
• Lola Lane
• Chambers Avenue south of 140th Street to Amana Road
• Hoosier Creek Road west of Ely Road at Naples Avenue
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