“It seems like last week, not eight years ago.”
Dean Studer was preparing to sandbag the Edward Jones office across, between the Vinton Fire Station and the Benton County Courthouse yesterday, as he did in June of 2008.
That year, the water from the Cedar River rose just to his door, making him very glad that he had decided in 1999 to haul in several truckloads of dirt to elevate the new office he was building.
In 2008, Studer had told me about the laughter he inspired as people watched all that dirt piling higher and higher between 2nd and 3rd Street. But unlike the fire station or county jail, his building survived the Flood of 2008.
Facing a new flood forecast of 23.1 feet, Studer, like many of this neighbors, went into sand-bagging mode in the most literal of senses, on Friday.
Along 2nd Street, where sits a row of apartments and houses that were repaired after being covered with 1-3 feet of water eight years ago, residents either moved or sandbagged, or both.
Lee Schwenker helped tenants sandbag the two-level duplexes just east of the VMEU power plant. He used a couple of Hesco barriers, identical to the ones the City of Vinton bought, but brown in color instead of green, along with sand bags to protect the apartments. A few hundred feet to the east of that, a truck was parked in front of another house as midnight approached, and several people inside were carrying things out to remove them from the danger.
On Third Street, Bob Ducharme placed sand bags around his landscaping wall, the top of which is as high as the last Cedar River crest of 24.7 feet. Ducharme raised and rebuilt his house — with the help of several church mission teams who came to Iowa to help after the historic 2008 flood.
On the other side of the Highway 150 bridge — which local officials expect to close sometime around Sunday morning if and when the river exceeds the 19 feet level — crews from Kirkwood College gathered to evacuate the Kirkwood campus. The water of 2008 was about as high as the bottom of the windows facing 3rd street, leaving about 18 inches of water. Everything that could be moved was loaded into a semi or vans on Friday.
Along First Avenue, the occupants of the Sherman Building, along with Monkeytown and the Abbe Mental Health Center (which had recently moved to that building after its home was destroyed by the tornado in July) protected their front doors with plastic and sandbags.
Businesses owners along 4th Street between 1st Avenue and A Avenue emptied the basements of their buildings, remembering the flooding caused by sewage back-ups in 2008. Some owners said they were advised to place sand bags over sewer drains to try to prevent this problem.