Wednesday, the city of Council Bluffs enacted its Level One alert. However, spokesman Don Gross stresses, there is no immediate danger. The alert is meant to notify residents of a “slowly developing event that may impact the levee system,” something cities along the river have known for weeks.
At the Dodge Riverside Golf Club, near Harrah’s Casino, ground water is seeping up; however, golf is still in play. The flood waters have encroached more on Harrah’s Casino next door.
Chad Stinson and his wife went down to the area to check out the view. They have a vested interest, living at River Place Apartments in Council Bluffs.
"We're moving out right now, just to prepare,” Stinson said. He’s got added reason to be prepared, as a member of the Iowa National Guard. "We've actually been activated for state active duty," he sauid. "That reminds me of '08 in Cedar Rapids."
While he prepares for levee duty, "just to make sure nothing breaks," others at the Mid-America Center are tackling sand bags.
Among the volunteers is James Carney, a third year Creighton University medical student on break. "I'll be sore tomorrow,” he said, “but it's good to get out and do a little work while you have time to do it."
So far, volunteers have filled nearly 600,000 sand bags for the Bluffs. Most have been used to build up existing levees, including Mosquito Creek and at the city’s waste water treatment plant. Some sand bags are also being used to protect railroad tracks.
But the city wants to have as many as 200,000 more in reserves. So sandbag volunteers will continue to work Friday, after checking in at First Christian Church.
"We're just kind of waiting," said Raquel Pearson, who lives near 41st and Avenue B. There's no immediate threat to her west-end neighborhood. But they've been notified that it's among the areas at risk if a levee does break. About 30,000 people are living those areas potentially at risk.
"We're taking the precautions. We've got half my basement up in my living room, everything packed up, taking to storage way out west,” she said. “We're a little concerned."
Will the river force an evacuation? Gross can't say, but he did say heavy rainfall could compromise a levee, causing a Level Two alert to be issued to the affected area.
That's what Stinson will be watching for as he resumes active guard duty. "It's kind of good that it's my city I get to save this time,” he said.
Gross urges people living in low-lying areas to have an evacuation plan in place. And he asks Council Bluffs residents to call 712-328-4672, to register for a Code Red alert call, in the event of evacuations.