Flood prep

Going back in time a bit to Tuesday and Wednesday's preparation for the flood..

I spent Tuesday in Iowa City and Coralville photographing people getting ready for the flood. The river was already at least two feet deep in the backyards of homes on Normandy Drive in Iowa City, but the sandbagging continued, with a lot of help from volunteers. Below, the Iowa City High cross country camp came out to help. I'll probably say this several more times in the course of covering this story, but, I'm so impressed with the generosity of strangers.

At 3:30 a.m., I awoke abruptly to the sound of my work cell ringing. Czech Village was being evacuated due to the rapidly rising water. (For the record, I had been warned that this was a possibility.. but I still went to bed Tuesday hoping it wouldn't happen.) I got to the village within 10 minutes of getting the call, half-dressed but fully awake, and not knowing what to expect at all. Most residents were already gone, due to the urgency of the evacuation. A few stragglers remained, including a few brave souls in trucks much more capable of handling the floodwater than my little Corolla.

These two families were unsure if they were included in the evacuation; while police officers had come to their homes telling them to leave, they still had gas (unlike the houses in the evacuation area), and were on higher ground. These homes are under water now, after a few levees broke on the west side of the river.

I filed three photos by 5:30 a.m., and headed back out to look for more as the sun rose over the village.

The 80-plus year-old facilities manager, left, and owner, right, of the Village Bank and Trust were sandbagging the doors into the bank. Again.. I'm almost certain that this is deep under water now.

I stalked some city streets crews around some dangerous (or soon to be dangerous) intersections, knowing that they would be closing roads soon. A few roads were already closed by this point, making two of the bridges across the river impassable. Now, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 12th and 16th Avenue bridges are all deep under water, leaving us with only the interstate to get across the river.

The Time Check neighborhood is near one of the levees that broke Thursday. I spent time with police officers as they canvassed the neighborhood for the mandatory evacuation, then photographed people beginning to move out. A group of volunteers from a construction company helped move out a couple's refrigerator.

The streets were already above my ankles in some places Wednesday afternoon.

After taking this photo, I walked up to the levee. The next day, I parked 13 blocks from the levee and still had to move my car to get away from flash flooding. I had no idea how bad it would get, and, after flying over the flood zones today, I still can't believe it.

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