City Prepares for Heavy Rains, Flash Floods


Flooding of Mississippi River in 2011. - WARD ARCHER
  • Ward Archer
  • Flooding of Mississippi River in 2011.

As heavy rain is forecast for the coming days here, city officials are preparing for flash floods and asking the public to do the same.

Robert Knecht, the city’s director of public works, said Tuesday he’s seen projections for 2 inches-8 inches of rainfall, and with several periods of heavy rainfall, flash floods are expected. The heaviest rainfall is forecast over the next 24 hours to 36 hours, Knecht said.

There are several things the city has to do in order to prepare for the possibility of flash floods, Knecht said.

He said the city is making sure its flood control system, which consists of a series of levies, flood walls, and pumps, is ready to operate. The city will activate the pump stations to move stormwater from drains toward the river.

Knecht said city crews will also be responding to flooding calls, as they begin monitoring and cleaning storm drains, especially in areas that tend to flood more frequently.

Low-lying areas, particularly underpasses are more prone to flooding, Knecht said.

In the coming weeks, Knecht said the Mississippi River is expected to crest at 37 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The city will be watching that “very closely,” he said, as that is one of the significant factors in how well the drainage system performs.

“The challenge we face is that the river is high,” Knecht said. “All the tributaries that you see have much more water than they usually do because the river rises up and conditions backflow into the tributaries. So, there’s not as much capacity and things drain slower.”

As the city works to prevent flooding, Knecht asks that the public also be monitoring low-lying areas and notify the city with any concerns.

Knecht also advises against leaving property that can me moved in low-lying areas, driving through standing water, and putting trash or leaves in catch basins or storm drains.

If citizens notice clogged storm drains, Knecht said they should contact 311.

“The best thing we can do is keep those catch basins and pipes open and flowing so that all the rain that does fall can get out,” Knecht said.

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