Floods in Ames likely to subside as Governor signs ‘disaster proclamation’


Mikinna Kerns/Iowa State Daily

Stuart Smith Park is submerged in water after heavy rains caused flooding throughout Ames

Devyn Leeson

Flooding in the City of Ames has been a concern over the last week as Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a disaster proclamation for Story County, but weather forecasters and Ames officials say it is unlikely to get worse.

“Starting last Thursday, at around three or four in the morning, Ames had people all around assessing the situation,” said Susan Gwiasda, Ames public relations officer. “The Ames [Police Department], Fire Department and Parks and Recreation were all out in the low-lying flood plain areas.”

Heavy rains between five and six inches and across nine counties including Story, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth, Lyon, Osceola, Palo Alto and Scott led Reynolds to sign a disaster proclamation.

Gwiasda said this proclamation will be used to help private property owners who were affected by floods.

“You have to be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level to apply for reimbursement for flood damage,” Gwiasda said. “So whether emergency funds get used all depends on if people qualify for reimbursement.”

Residents will have until Aug. 5 to file their claims to Mid-Iowa Community Action, the group in charge of all flood claims. For more information on the proclamation visit https://www.homelandsecurity.iowa.gov/.

The City of Ames will probably not require assistance, Gwiasda said.

“From a city perspective we didn’t have a tremendous amount of damage,” Gwiasda said. “We had a bridge wash out: We don’t know the cost estimate of that, but bridges tend to be a more expensive item.”

According to Gwiasda, the city also had issues with silt washing over hard surfaces and public tree limbs being broken, but that can all be covered by the general maintenance fund.

Joshua Thompson, parks and facilities superintendent for the Ames Parks and Recreation Department had similar sentiments in relation to Gwiasda.

“We had slight damage in Brookside Park, Stuart Smith Park and Emma McCarthy Lee Park,” Thompson said.

As of right now, Thompson and the rest of the Parks and Recreation Department are in the process of cleaning up hard surfaces and shelters that were affected by the floods as well as doing general maintenance and safety checks on playground/park equipment.

As far as flooding in Ames is concerned, residents should be vigilant but unconcerned, Thompson said.

“At this point I have not heard of any threat of floods going into next week,” Thompson said. “But then again, I didn’t think it was going to flood last week either.”

Gwiasda shared similar thoughts and said residents should be proactive.

“We watch the rain gauges and tell the residents to always be aware,” Gwiasda said. “Sometimes systems come out of nowhere, we have tornadoes in November and we have weather incidents that aren’t forecasted. Next week looks fine now, but we are always, always watching, and we recommend others do, as well.”

John Dunn, director of Ames water and pollution control, voiced optimism about the coming weeks.

“After the initial flooding last Thursday, we had a couple of days where the water was able to crest and then fall again,” Dunn said. “Rain for the next week is not expected to surpass one-to-two inches and that  allows us a little bit more breathing room.”

According to Dunn these floods were typical for the Ames area.

“It is certainly typical for parks and low-lying areas around Ames to flood,” Dunn said. “Typically these parks are built on low cost lands adjacent to rivers, so it isn’t a surprise we saw flooding there. Every two-to-three years, we see flood waters in the parks because those areas are the first to be affected.”

If forecasts change, Dunn’s office can use flood modeling tools to tell which areas and at what times a flood will affect them.

According to the City of Ames website, other tools like the Iowa Flood Information System allow users to access extra information including “Ames-based flood conditions, forecasts, and inundation maps.”

For more information on the Ames flood watch program click here.