Marshall County at risk for areal flooding

The spring Marshalltown flooding season of June has passed but floods can still occur.

Marshall County Emergency Management Director Kim Elder said floods can happen at any time — it all depends on the weather.

“Right now, we are not in a drought and our water table is full — it is normal to high-normal,” she said. “The Iowa River is full. We might get some areal flooding and flash floods.”

The National Weather Service describes areal flooding as something that happens gradually due to consistent heavy rainfall. It is small bodies of water that are created in low-lying areas and near small creeks. According to the NWS, the flooding occurs more than six hours after rain begins and could cover a large area.

A flash flood occurs quickly within six hours of rain typically near rivers.

“We can get heavy rains that last three days — those happen more in the summer than in the spring,” Elder said. “Last week they got 2 inches of rain in State Center in 35 minutes and we did not get any in Marshalltown.”

She said also last week, the Conrad area received some flooding from some heavy rains, and many county roads were closed as a result.

“The flooding blew out a lot of culverts,” Elder said. “They had a lot of work to do. Marshall County was lucky.”

The summer months is when Elder said more areal flooding can occur, and, like a tornado, they can happen at any time.

“Areal flooding is always possible,” she said. “People need to be prepared. When someone buys a home, they need to talk to their neighbors and find out if flooding happens there – especially if they are in low-lying areas, near creeks or ditches.”

Elder suggested those home owners get sump pumps and have batteries to back them up if the electricity goes out or gets shut off.

She urges people who are driving or walking around to stop when they come to a flooded area.

“Do not try to drive or walk into it,” Elder said. “‘Turn around, don’t drown’ is not a joke. Water can carry cars away. The waters can also wash away culverts and make the roads unstable. There are also things under the surface of flood waters that you cannot see that make it dangerous to walk in to. Just be aware of things and do not get into dangerous situations.”


A recent report released by the First Street Foundation states the flood risk in Iowa is increasing. Town properties in Marshall County are not at as much risk as others across the state.

The towns with the highest number of properties at risk from flooding are:

• Council Bluffs with 10,989 properties

• Des Moines, 9,328

• Waterloo, 9,245

• Sioux City, 6,108

• Cedar Rapids, 5,899

• Dubuque, 5,012

• Clinton, 4,918

• Davenport, 4,327

• Ottumwa, 3,876

• Mason City, 2,343


Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or bradstream@timesrepublican.com


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