Me, I was alternating between downtown Vinton, taking photos and talking to city officials about what was happening and what to expect.
The answer to the second part of my question: “Nobody knows because the river has never been this high before.”
We’ve now had a decade to remember some of those 2008 images: The fire truck plodding through water; inmates leaving the jail for the last time, in a boat; cattle taking refuge on a deck; countless volunteers sandbagging, and water, water everywhere.
We’ve also had 10 years to process everything we learned about flood and flood recovery in June of 2008. Since then, we’ve also had a few chances to prepare for smaller floods, and survived a massive 2011 wind storm and 2016 tornado.
It was on June 11-12, 2008, that the Cedar River reached its highest recorded level, destroying the Benton County jail/sheriff’s office, flooding the light plant and fire station and damaging or destroying dozens of homes and filling basements throughout the downtown area and beyond.
A decade after the last of the prisoners left the old jail, Benton County is now using its new jail — which opened in 2011, mostly paid for by FEMA flood relief funding — as a revenue source. Sheriff Ron Tippett says the jail holds an average of around 12-15 prisoners per day from other counties, which pay $50 per day per person. Recently, that total passed $750,000 for this fiscal year, with the funds going into the Benton County general fund.
Members of the Vinton Fire Department contributed much of the labor to rebuild the fire station, limiting the cost of that project to around $60,000. The light plant generators were also repaired following the inundation. A recent FEMA report, however, has suggested moving local public facilities away from the flood-prone area.
The last of those links is from the City of Vinton, Louisiana, which sent some aid after our flood. Vinton, Iowa residents had helped them after the 2005 hurricane.
Due to recent heavy rains north of Vinton this week, the river level is predicted to rise to 14.3 feet, at the very low end of the flooding scale. See more information HERE.
The city’s second-highest flood took place in September of 2016, with a crest around 21.8 feet.
Tetanus booster reminder
Dr. Maggie Mangold of Virginia Gay Hospital also mentioned the 10-year anniversary and linked it to another 1o-year theme:
“If your last tetanus shot was when Vinton looked like this, it’s time for your tetanus booster,” Dr. Mangold posted on Facebook, along with a photo from the Flood of 2008.
“I’m proud of this little town — banding together and weathering one natural disaster after another,” says Dr. Mangold.