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More Iowa cities mobilizing for flooding along Cedar River

24 September 2016

Flooding forced residents from their homes in the northeast Iowa towns of Greene and Clarksville on Thursday as the Shell Rock River jumped its banks following heavy storms that dumped up to 9 inches of rain in some areas.

The weather service says more rain could change forecasts, and local officials say at least moderate flooding seems a certainty.

The National Weather Service in Quad Cities has issued a Flood Warning for the Iowa River at Columbus Junction until further notice.

Just across the Mississippi River in southwest Wisconsin, residents of the tiny community of Victory are recovering from storms and flooding that caused one death.

Authorities said 53-year-old resident Michael McDonald was killed when his house slid down the side of a bluff and onto state Highway 35 on Thursday.

Vernon County Sheriff John Spears says the community has been devastated and torn apart by the flooding. Emergency managers also reported a number of closed county roads due to high water. The Winnebago River sits 2 feet over flood stage of 10 feet and is expected to crest at 14.2 feet early Friday morning, near the top of the dike on the north side of Mason City.

Forecasters call for the river to rise to 23.2 feet Friday, which would be the fourth-highest crest recorded at Elkader, according to NWS.

Water will reach the downtown core, the NewBo district and the Czech Village and Time Check neighborhoods if levels actually hit 24 feet, city officials said.

"We're very concerned about the downtown", said Mike Goldberg, director of Linn County Emergency Management.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it is now not planning to close any of the Mississippi's locks as the latest National Weather Service forecast shows water rising near, but not above, the lock-closure stage.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a disaster proclamation for 13 northeast Iowa counties affected by flooding.

The proclamation also enacts a grant program for homeowners meeting poverty guidelines to apply for up to $5,000 in financial aid to fix damage to a home or auto or to replace food or clothing lost in the flood. However, the Cedar River is expected to quickly rise above flood stage Sunday (Sept. 25) evening and continue rising to a major flood stage by Tuesday (Sept. 27) night, reaching 18.1 feet by Wednesday (Sept. 28) night.

The floodwaters are threatening sewer lift stations, which officials said will likely cause basement flooding.