Mississippi River dropping below flood stage in Iowa

Posted at 10:42 AM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 14:55:03-04

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Mississippi River is dropping below flood stage along many of Iowa’s riverfront cities after nearly three months of record highs caused by melting snow and torrential rain.

The river dropped below flood stage at Guttenberg, Iowa, early Tuesday, and was more than half a foot (15 centimeters) under flood stage Thursday morning at one Dubuque gauge. The river was above flood stage at Dubuque for a record 85 days, breaking the old mark of 34 days set in 2011, according to the National Weather Service.

The river remained around 2.5 feet (three-quarters of a meter) above flood stage at Davenport, where floodwaters surged into downtown after a barrier failed April 30.

Levels of the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi near St. Louis, have dropped some but are expected to remain high for much of the summer. Several Midwestern rivers have flooded periodically since March, causing billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses.

While the Mississippi is dropping now, “it could come right back up if we get a bunch of rain,” said Jamie Gamerdinger, who owns a hotel, a fishing barge, a bait shop and rents out boats in Guttenberg. He erected concrete walls to protect his various businesses.

“If the water was going to come up high, you can’t stop it,” he said.

Downstream in St. Louis, the river reached its second-highest crest in recorded history Sunday and has dropped 2 feet (0.61 meters) since. It’s not expected to return below flood stage for nearly two more weeks.

Nearly 280 roads remain closed in Missouri, mostly in communities situated near the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. The Missouri Transportation Department said as many as 400 have been closed by flooding.

In Jefferson City, Missouri, where Missouri River floodwaters at one point blocked streets leading up to the Capitol, the river remained more than 7 feet (2.13 meters) above flood stage. It’s not expected to go below flood stage until June 21, barring any torrential rain.

The Missouri River dropped below flood stage Thursday in Omaha but remains well above in several southeast Nebraska and southwest Iowa spots.

More flooding is possible in places protected by levees that were damaged in March because few have been repaired. The work has been hindered by the extent of the damage and lingering floodwaters, officials said.