City addresses flooding issues

Edward Leonard and Brian Smith

City of Ames officials held an afternoon news conference to update the city on the flooding situatuons.

Mayor Ann Campbell said “unprecedented amounts of water” following several days of heavy rain caused the flooding.

At some point during the day, city engineers noticed a “dramatic” drop in the water pressure, indicating a possible water main break. A break was discovered under Squaw Creek. Because the break occured near floodwaters, the city shut down the water plant to eliminate the potential for contaminating the water.

Tests have not confirmed any contaminants in the water, but the city said until the system is operational, all water should be assumed contaminated. City officials also have asked residents to contact them if water is spotted bubbling up, as this could indicate another water main leak.

The water pressue is being kept low so the city can monitor for further leaks. Residents who do have water pressure are reminded to treat the water as contaminated and are asked not to flush toilets or take showers.

Water is expected to be usable for toilets and showers at some point tonight, but will not be considered sanitary for three to seven days.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver has toured the area and the city is coordinating with the state to create a potable water distribution center.

Most grocery stores have run out of water, but are attempting to replenish supplies as quickly as possible.

Police Chief Chuck Cychosz said his department has performed “in excess of 100” rescues.

He said police, fire and emergency medical services are fully functional.

Residents are reminded to stay out of floodwaters, which can be extremely dangerous. They are also asked to avoid sightseeing, especially in vehicles.

Kevin Anderson, Ames city sanitarian, said restaurants have been asked to close voluntarily.

He reminded people not to use tap water for cooking, drinking or cleaning dishes. Anderson also said not to use ice machines, beverage dispensers or automatic dishwashers.

The city tentatively plans to hold another news conference at 8 p.m. at city hall.