Iowa’s governor says state, counties prepping for 2020 flooding

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds says state officials have been working with local emergency management coordinators to prepare for another round of flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers this spring.

“We want to make sure the line of communication is clear so that if we have, especially, an (evacuation) order — we didn’t have a lot of time with this last go-round — and so we want to make sure that all of the procedures are in place.”

National Weather Service forecasts describe the flood threat along the western Iowa border south of Sioux City as “grim” and, in eastern Iowa, there’s a 95 percent probability of flooding along the Mississippi. Last week, Governor Reynolds approved 21 million dollars in state funding for a variety of flood-related projects around the state. Most of the federally-managed Missouri River levees that were damaged last spring have been repaired, according to Reynolds.

“I think they’re up to about a 25 or 50 years flood, so not near where they need to be,” Reynolds says, “but we’re trying to do everything we can to be in the best possible position to be ready for this spring.”

Reynolds says the Army Corps of Engineers has begun increasing the amount of water that’s being released in the Missouri River from reservoirs upstream — to hold some of the melting snow that’s expected in the river basin.

“And on the Mississippi we’re already five feet above where we should be, so we’re just continuing to put procedures in place to be ready,” Reynolds says.

National Weather Service hydrologists say snow pack in Minnesota and Wisconsin is heavier than a year ago — adding to the flood risk downstream. Last month, there was a flash flood in a Minneapolis suburb was caused by ice pack breaking up on the Mississipi River. This weekend, the National Weather Service in Omaha issued a flood warning along the Platte River south of Fremont. The Platte drains into the Missouri River just south of Omaha.