Rock Rapids, Iowa — Many basements and some whole houses and businesses are inundated with water in Rock Rapids today, and hundreds of people have been evacuated in Alvord, Rock Rapids, and Rock Valley.
The entire Lyon County community of Alvord was evacuated due to flooding. That’s about 350 people. Residents were taken to a shelter in Rock Rapids, or spent the night with friends or relatives.
On Monday, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office advised that they had received word from the National Weather Service that the Rock River at Rock Rapids was going to rise another four feet. They reported that that level would be three feet higher than the 1993 flood, or about 28.3 feet. They advised that they did not feel that they can successfully sandbag if the river rises that high.
The Sheriff’s Office at that point issued a mandatory evacuation of the 500 block to the 900 block of Tama Street in Rock Rapids, including all of Benton Street and everything in between. Fire Department personnel and law enforcement went door-to-door evacuating residents at those locations.
Highway 9, Rock Rapids main street had several inches of water over it in several places downtown and in residential areas and was impassable. Moon Creek, which runs just two blocks north of a part of that street was at least partly to blame. The water came rushing across North Union Street, just north of Casey’s, and into Denny’s Sanitation’s shop and the Moon Creek Vet Clinic. At last report the Highway 9 bridge was closed over the Rock River in Rock Rapids, due to fears about it’s integrity. Lyon County Emergency Management Director Arden Kopischke says the bridge is in jeopardy.
Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says it’s unlike anything he’s ever experienced in Rock Rapids.
There were reports of a gas leak, but due to all the water it could not be found. Several homes were without power.
The Rock River in Rock Rapids crested at 24.02 feet early on Monday, but fell and then rose again, surpassing that mark in the 8 PM hour on Monday evening. A new crest of 24.79 was observed at 1 AM Tuesday. The river fell a little but at last report was on the rise again to an expected crest of 28.8 feet. The old record was 22.2 feet.
So far no injuries or fatalities have been attributed to the flooding or storms in Lyon County, but authorities are considering calling in the National Guard.
Shelters for those displaced by flood waters were set up at the Rock Rapids Community Center and Central Lyon High School. The Red Cross is available.
Sheriff Vander Stoep is requesting that no one travel on any road in Lyon County. In an emergency, the only way to Sioux Falls is A26 to the West Lyon School, then north on Highway 182 to Larchwood and then Highway 9 toward Sioux Falls. Bridges are washed out and roads are flooded and impassable. Rock Rapids mayor Jason Chase is asking that if you are not volunteering to stay away from flooded areas and work zones. Volunteers are asked to help fill sandbags at the Street/Public Works Shop at 311 South Third Avenue.
At Rock Valley, the river is on the way to a forecasted crest of 23 feet, which is forecast to happen sometime on Wednesday. The old record there is 20 feet.
The City of Rock Valley evacuated residents north of 17th Street between 19th and Main Street.
Displaced residents in the Rock Valley area, were encouraged to seek shelter at the Faith Reformed Church in that community.
The mayor of Rock Valley has declared a state of emergency in that city.
The City of Rock Valley is asking for volunteers to assist in sandbagging operations. If you are able to help please go to the Trinity Christian Reformed Church parking lot at 2020 8th St S.E. in Rock Valley. Bring your own shovels and gloves and try to carpool if possible.
Rock Valley is only accessible in two ways. From the south, take County Blacktop K30 (Elmwood) northbound; or come into Rock Valley from the east by taking US Highway 18 west bound. At last report, vehicles could not get into Rock Valley from the north or from the west.
The American Red Cross serving Greater Iowa supported shelters in the communities of Rock Valley and Rock Rapids for more than 100 people on Monday night. More than 900 snacks have already been served, and volunteers will be supporting the efforts of groups gathering to sandbag throughout the day with food and water. The Red Cross is meeting with other communities to determine need for support in anticipation of additional flooding across northwest Iowa.
Flood warnings continue for all locations along the Rock River, most locations on the Big Sioux, Perry Creek, the Ocheyedan River and the Little Sioux River.