Bluffs residents warned to clear out basements of all valuables, more sandbag volunteers needed in Omaha

News

June 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

With flooding in many areas of the state and the extended forecast calling for more rain, Iowans who’ve not had wet basements before are having to face unfriendly realities. Art Hill, spokesman for the city of Council Bluffs, is warning homeowners in that southwest Iowa city to take more precautions against the rising Missouri River. 

Hill says, “At this stage, we’re recommending that anybody that has any sort of threat or history of having groundwater coming up into their house, get your valuables out of the basement.” Hill says residents need to be prepared by packing an emergency kit that includes money, important paperwork, medications, baby items and clothing. Also, he says to make a plan that includes where to meet family members in the case of evacuation.

“We want everyone to be prepared as we look at the rain that’s going to be coming over the next several days and the situation we have,” he says. Hill also suggests taking the time to inspect your basement walls and the foundation. Just across the Missouri River, Omaha leaders are renewing the call for volunteers to help fill sandbags. Two weeks ago, the city’s Levi Carter Park was converted into a massive sandbag-filling factory. Melinda Pearson, Omaha’s director of Parks and Recreation, says the 100-thousand sandbags that were just filled are already spoken for and many more are needed.

“We’d like anywhere between 100- and 200-thousand sitting without being taken to somewhere else,” Pearson says. “Right now, the ones that were created at Levi Carter are mostly gone. They have been moved.” Pearson says hundreds of volunteers are being recruited through companies, individuals and families. She says many sandbag fillers are burning the candle at both ends.

“We’re asking the city to continue be helpful,” Pearson says. “We do want to come into a little bit more manageable schedule so our people don’t get burned out and our volunteers don’t get burned out.” Sandbagging operations will run until 8 o’clock tonight (Thursday), Friday and Saturday at Levi Carter Park.