Area still teetering on brink of flood stage nearly a month later

Flooding doesn’t discriminate. Even the Marshall County Emergency Management office gets water seeping into its below-ground office when rains get heavy.

Kim Elder, emergency management director, said her office and the communication center were put underground for safety purposes, but the flooding is indicative of how badly the city needs a new public safety building.

The city has already begun the lengthy process of building new fire and police departments, earmarking money for their construction after years of much-needed upgrades.

Although much of the rain dumped on the area in late May has yet to recede, Elder said recent rains have done little to make the problem worse. The only exception is that farm land seems to be seeing some soil erosion, and tiny rivers are washing away some crops.

Overall, she said, the Marshalltown area is still in good shape. While river levels have been fluctuating, topping out just shy of flood levels, there has been little cause for concern from the recent rains.

Elder said flash flooding is not as much of a concern as downstream rains rushing into the local water shed. However, the unpredictability of precipitation coupled with rivers already being on the precipice of flood levels make for a tense situation. A quick pop-up shower could change everything.

“It’s amazing that a 20-minute rain can dump 4 inches on the area,” she said. “It wouldn’t take much We are definitely already saturated all the way around.”

Lynn Couch, Public Works director, said sewer repairs are going as planned. No major issues have popped up since he made his initial estimate of the damage, which is around $150,000.

Although a few major areas in town, including an intake along Lincoln Way near 12th Street, have proven a challenge, Couch said the Public Works department is addressing them as swiftly as possible. Luckily, it appears crews have identified most of the damage to sewers and has hit no snags.

“Everything is moving along just to pace,” Couch said.

The president has yet to declare Marshall County eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency money as requested by several Iowa politicians.

The city has already accepted a contract to upgrade the levee system as mandated by FEMA. That construction will begin late this fall or early next spring, Couch said.