[Masthead] Fair ~ 43°F  
High: 63°F ~ Low: 41°F
Sunday, May 1, 2016

Flooding returns to Cherokee

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Record water level higher then the flood of '93

Washout - The approach to this bridge on 585th Street was just one of the many bridges that were damaged over the weekend by floodwaters. Photo by Katie Carnes
Cherokee County was hit hard with heavy rain downpours this past weekend. Accurate total amounts were unattainable due to most weather rain gauges leveling out anywhere from five to eight inches.

The Cherokee Fire and Rescue confirmed 6.3 inches of rain over the weekend, but they also stated that the total amountof rain was anywhere from six to eight inches.

Tornado warnings and thunderstorms warnings were both issued on Friday and Saturday evenings. All of this heavy rain was on top of another heavy storm system that occurred last Wednesday and saturated the ground even more than the past couple of weeks of rain.

This saturation made the perfect scenario for flooding. Area creeks and tributaries busted out of their banks and poured into the Little Sioux River in the early hours on Sunday.

Between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. the Little Sioux River crested at a record-high 27.3 feet. In the flood of 1993, the Little Sioux River reached 27.2 feet, according to Richard Boothby, Co-Chair of the Little Sioux Flood Committee.

River vs. Road - The water freely flowed over the road on C-44 as the Little Sioux River continued to rise Monday morning. Photo by Katie Carnes
Boothby also reported that as of Monday at 7:15 a.m. the Little Sioux River had gone down to 25.3 feet. Boothby predicted the river will continue to drop another two or three feet by today but will remain high as the ground water upstream enters the river. Boothby said that the river would have probably handled all the water coming from up stream but it was the massive amount of water coming from Mill Creek and Railroad Creek that pushed the river over the edge.

Boothby also believed that the total amount of rain received from just this weekend ranged somewhere between six to eight inches.

Many area residents woke up to wet basements and begin the daunting task of cleaning their homes, but as of Monday the ground was so saturated that water still kept entering homes. The American Red Cross has been responding to the flood in Cherokee since early Sunday morning.

The Red Cross has provided flood clean up kits, water, bug spray, and information to residents affected by the flooding. The Red Cross is set up at the Cherokee Fire Station to hand out clean up kits and information. If further assistance is needed call 800-340-4081.

Cherokee Police Chief Steve Schuck remarked how he had to use a canoe on Sunday to check on residents and their pets that were under siege by the high water on Roosevelt Street near the corner of Roosevelt and Main Street. Schuck also reported on the efforts conducted by several local residents to help pull out semi trucks and trailers from the overnight parking lot located across the street from Norm's Body Shop on East Main Street near the river.

City work crews have been working nonstop in pumping out some of the pressure that comes with floodwaters. All city lift stations are working but due to the high amount of water, the city has been pumping out water from the area around Euclid Avenue and Cedar Street, along with the city lagoons.

Cherokee City Administrator Don Eikmeier said, "I can't speak highly enough of the efforts of our city workers and police department and local efforts of our citizens during this time."

Eikmeier also commended the efforts of Cherokee Street Superintendent Jim Agnitsch and Cherokee City Park Superintendent Duane Mummert for their efforts in evacuating campers at Koser Spring Lake Park at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The Cherokee County Conservation Department also had to evacuate 20 to 30 campers at Silver Sioux Campground during the early hours on Sunday.

Cherokee County Conservation Director Ginger Walker stated that the Cherokee County Sheriff Department was keeping an eye on the weather front and she received a call at 1 a.m. Sunday morning to advise the campers to evacuate. Walker stated it was quite an evening. She and Cherokee County Conservation Assistant Chad Brown headed to Silver Sioux and upon arriving a downed tree impeded efforts to reach the park. Brown then made short work of removing the obstacle by use of a chainsaw.

The Cherokee County Sheriff Department also alerted the Quimby Fire Department. Walker stated that Neal Rupp and his crew did a heck of a job mobilizing the rescue efforts. They quickly notified the campers of the rising water and were also able to get the campers vehicles and RVs to higher ground so no damage was done to the guests of the county. Walker and Brown subsequently closed Martin's Access and Rainey Knob campgrounds to prevent anyone going into them until it is safer.

Campers who were local residents were brought home while other campers were invited to spend the rest of the night on emergency cots at the Quimby Fire Department. As of Monday afternoon the Conservation Department worked with nearby landowners by Silver Sioux to continue the efforts getting the RVs and vehicles out of Silver Sioux on Monday evening.

Once again the high water racing down the Little Sioux River caused water to creep over the top of U.S. Hwy. 59 and forced the closer of that major roadway like it did during the flood that happened this spring. This marks the second time this year that Hwy. 59 was closed due to floodwaters.

The Iowa Hwy. 3 bypass was also closed until midday on Monday, forcing any on the south side of Cherokee to travel all the way to Larrabee, 8 miles north of Cherokee, or Quimby, 8 miles southwest of Cherokee, just to get to downtown or the north side of town.

Many County bridges were damaged by the storm. Cherokee County Engineer Dave Shanahan confirmed at least six bridges within the county were affected by the flooding. Many had the dirt washed out under the approaches and are not safe to travel. All are blocked off to traffic.

Shanahan also stated that every place water could go over the roads, it did. There was so much water coming all at once that the Secondary Roads department ran out of Road Closed signs.

Skating on Thin Concrete - A wall of water swept the land out from under the road near the bridge over Perry Creek on the River Road between Cherokee and Quimby. For more photos of the weekend flood, see the "June 2010 Flood" Photo Gallery Photo by Katie Carnes.
"We took a beating over the weekend," said Shanahan. "We will still be finding damage for weeks to come. Shanahan commended the efforts of the Cherokee County Law Enforcement Center and his workers at the Secondary Roads for all their hard work over the weekend.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: