Johnson County leaders see improvements in flood mitigation efforts

The Johnson County emergency management team says the Gateway Project is keeping Dubuque Street dry despite flooding.

Johnson County managers say they are seeing an improvement in how the county is holding up to flooding.

"All of our flood mitigation and all of our buyouts withstood 16,100 cubic feet per second for over 12 hours last Saturday through Sunday," said Dave Wilson, the Johnson County Emergency Management coordinator.

Wilson and several other agency leaders held a joint press conference on Thursday morning in Iowa City, referring to how the county is holding up against flooding that started last weekend as "good news". For the most part, county leaders say flood mitigation like the Coralville Reservoir and the Gateway Project play a big part in the improvement the county has seen in comparison to past floods.

As of Thursday morning, the reservoir is at 80%. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say they expect water to reach 96% capacity by October 20th, which is why they've increased the outflow to 12,000 cubic feet per second. The Coralville Reservoir can hold up to 712 feet of water.

"The dam is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. It's functioning correctly. Like I said before, this gives us a good chance to make sure all the monitoring wells and things like that are functioning at the elevation," said Jonathan Winkler, the assistant operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This week's flooding is the first real test for the Gateway Project, which elevates Dubuque Street to one foot above the 100-year flood plan. As of Thursday, Dubuque Street remains dry.

"The Dubuque Street Project elevates one of our entries into the City of Iowa City and that would currently be inundated by flood waters. We would have a problem with that last weekend," said Kevin Slutts, with the Iowa City Public Works department.

Preventative measures for homeowners near rural roads in Johnson County are being offered. A sandbag filling station is located at Iowa City's street department at 3800 Napoleon Lane.

County managers say it's a combination of flood mitigation planning and several agencies working together that the majority of Johnson County is safe and dry.

"We presently do not intend to do any mandatory evacuations anywhere in Johnson County," said Wilson.

The emergency management team says some roads will remain closed until the water drops. People are reminded to not drive around barriers placed on those roads.

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