Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Here we go again? Let's hope not.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Des Moines city officials are coordinating efforts Tuesday to prepare for significantly higher levels on the Des Moines River. The city has begun public briefings three times a day to distribute information about the flood.

"We're doing everything we can to mitigate effects of the flood," said city manager Rick Clark.

An Army Corps of Engineers flood specialist, Roger Less, said the temporary flood gates on the emergency spillway at Saylorville Lake will likely be lowered Tuesday evening, which will double the outflow from Saylorville into the river headed toward Des Moines.

Less said the lake is rising quickly, even though the dam spillway is releasing its maximum amount of 21,000 cubic feet per second. Once the emergency spillway is topped, that amount will double to 42,000 cubic feet per second. Less says 60,000 cubic feet per second is flowing into the lake and that's causing the lake level to rise rapidly.

He anticipates that once the temporary gates are lowered, it will take about 12 hours for that higher water to reach downtown Des Moines. "The City of Des Moines is doing all the right things to be proactive and prepare for the flood," Less said.

City Public Works Director Bill Stowe said he anticipates that will put the river at or near the top of the levee system in Des Moines. He said he expects the levee system will hold at the anticipated levels but warned that a forecast of more rain Wednesday night into Thursday could make things worse.

Stowe also said downtown Des Moines bridges will be closed Tuesday afternoon and evening as a precaution. He recommends that traffic leaving needing to move east-west through downtown use 2nd Avenue and East 6th to I-235 and use the freeway's bridge across the river.

Des Moines police chief Judy Bradshaw said police are moving equipment and personnel into place in case evacuations are needed. She said the department is preparing for the worst.

Parks and Recreation Director Don Tripp said city pools will be closed through Wednesday because employees are being used for sandbagging operations.

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