NOAA: Flash Flooding An Underrated Killer

Sheldon, Iowa — This is Severe Weather Awareness Week In Iowa. Each day this week, the National Weather Service is focusing on a different severe weather topic.
Flash flooding usgs
Today’s topic is flash flooding.

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard, resulting in more than 140 fatalities each year.

Most flash floods are caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms that redevelop over the same area, or heavy rains from tropical storms and hurricanes. These floods can develop within minutes or hours depending on the intensity and duration of the rain, the topography, soil conditions, and ground cover.

A flash flood is a rapid rise of water along a stream or low-lying urban area. Flash floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour out new channels. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Flash flood-producing rains also can trigger catastrophic mudslides.

The Sioux Falls office of the National Weather Service covers our area of northwest Iowa. Todd Heitkamp, their Warning Coordination Meteorologist says flash flooding does indeed occur in our area.

Flash Flood Watch:

Issued by the National Weather Service to indicate current or developing hydrological conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area. The occurrence of flooding is neither certain nor imminent. Those in the watch area should be alert for flooding.

Flash Flood Warning:

National Weather Service meteorologists have determined that flash flooding is occurring or imminent. Those in the warning area should take the necessary precautions at once.

Flash Flood Emergency:

A Flash Flood Emergency is issued by the National Weather Service. It is not a new warning, but is used to highlight a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood which is imminent or ongoing.

For more information, click here for the National Weather Service’s Flooding Brochure.

Frozen Meals Have Replaced Hot Meals

OC MealsOrange City, Iowa — The new Home-Delivered Meals program in Orange City and Alton is about a month old.

Orange City Area Health System Food Services Manager Sharon VerMeer says the program replaces the Meals on Wheels program.

She says that about the only things that stayed the same were the food, the delivery times and the price. She says while they couldn’t do the program without all of their volunteers, it was becoming harder to do the hot meal program due sometimes to churches not being able to find the volunteers. Plus, Char Ten Clay, Orange City Area Health System Director of Senior Care says that society has changed. She says that nationally, there’s a trend toward fewer deliveries and using frozen meals. She says they realize this is a huge change for their clients, but to make it easier on their volunteers they felt they had to make the change.

VerMeer says there are certainly some positive aspects of the change.

Plus, she says the frozen format gives them a little more flexibility because people can now order as many meals as they want. They can use them as lunch and supper meals, and can order enough meals for a weekend. Plus, if they’re going to be away, the meal can just stay in the freezer for another time.

She says that there are now choices you can make.

VerMeer stresses that the program still uses lots of volunteers, and without them it still would not be possible.

If you or your loved one would like to know more about the Orange City and Alton Home Delivered Meal Program, she says you can call Meals Coordinator Pam DeHaan at 712-737-8954.

Construction To Begin In April On Wind Farm

Wind Turbine Blade MidAmericanSanborn, Iowa — As we’ve told you O’Brien County is the home to the largest wind farm in the state of Iowa. MidAmerican Energy Company, the owner of the Highland Wind Farm near Primghar plans to be in construction early next month on a second wind farm, says MidAmerican spokesperson Ruth Comer.

She says the new wind farm, being called the O’Brien Wind Farm, will have 104 turbines.

Comer says at the same time, they will be building another new wind farm in Ida County.

She says O’Brien County has been a great wind power location for them.

She says wind power offers a lot of advantages.

Comer says O’Brien County is important to their operations.

The new O’Brien Wind Farm will be about half the size of the Highland Wind Farm, and will be located near Sanborn. The 250 megawatt generation capacity of the O’Brien wind farm is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of 75,000 average Iowa households. According to US Census figures, there are around 6,000 households in O’Brien County.

Area Drs, Hospitals Get Reduced Paperwork For Medicaid Privatization

stethoscope_sxcNorthwest Iowa — Previously we told you about Iowa’s Medicaid system being taken over by private companies effective April 1st.  Now it’s been announced that northwest Iowa healthcare providers will be able to use the same forms they’ve been using prior to privatization, to address complaints about paperwork overload.

Cynthia MacDonald of Amerigroup says this kind of cooperation is uncommon.

Some Iowa doctors and other health care providers have reportedly decided to quit accepting Medicaid patients because of the looming problem of submitting different forms, including bills, to three different health care companies. In addition to the announcement about unified forms, MacDonald says all three managed care companies want to figure out other ways to cut the administrative paperwork for health care providers.

MacDonald along with officials from the other two companies met with legislators to answer questions about the April 1st switch to private managed care for 560-thousand Iowa Medicaid patients.

Snow & Ice Bury Northwest Iowa

Ice-&-Snow_logo_smNorthwest Iowa — It’s been spring for five days, but Wednesday Old Man Winter showed northwest Iowa that he’s not going away just yet.

Snowfall totals varied widely around the area in the wake of Wednesday’s snowstorm, with Rock Rapids reporting just an inch of new snow, up to a total of fifteen inches in Le Mars.  National Weather Service meterologist Todd Heitkamp says the heaviest band of snow ran from about Sioux City area, up through Cherokee, and northeast to the Spirit Lake and Spencer areas.

Some of the unofficial snowfall totals from the area include:  1 inch at Rock Rapids; 3-1/2 inches at Sibley; 6 inches at Sheldon; 6 to 8 inches at Primghar; 8 to 9 inches in Spencer; 10 inches at Orange City; and 15″ at Le Mars.

In addition to the heavy snowfall dumped by this system, the precipitation began as rain, which then froze, providing a layer of ice under the snowfall, complicating not only travel, but snow removal itself.  There were reports of snowplows being stuck in Le Mars earlier Thursday morning.


Three New Murals Up In Rock Rapids

Rock Rapids, Iowa — After the flood of 2014, and up until recently, no murals had been done in Rock Rapids. The city bills itself as “The City of Murals,” but Norma Jansma with the Rock Rapids Mural Society says the city was in disarray, and out of respect for the flood victims, they put their efforts on hold for a while.
Flood Mural
Now, in fairly quick succession, three murals have been painted and hung in Rock Rapids. Jansma says that the 29th mural to be done is one that depicts the flood. Painted by Mathew Sharum from Detroit, Michigan, the eight by forty-eight-foot mural is on the east side of the Ace Hardware building in downtown Rock Rapids.

Banjo MuralShe says the mural was partially funded by Forster Trust and Rock Rapids Mural Society.

The 30th mural is a smaller mural on the west side of the Depot Museum annex building on North Story Street. It features a banjo and a mandolin from the Lion Banjo Manufacturing company, which manufactured the instruments in Rock Rapids in the 1880’s and 1890’s.

She says Mathew Sharum painted that mural as well.

The 31st mural depicts nine of Rock Rapids’ churches. It’s on First Avenue on the east side of the Atlas building, just as you come into town from the east on Highway 9. It actually replaces an Island Park mural that was retired, says Jansma.

Churches MuralShe says each church decided if they wanted to have a picture of their church as it stands today or their first church in Rock Rapids. Some congregations, like that of the United Methodist Church, which was built in 1895, are still worshiping in their original buildings. The mural was painted by a new artist to Rock Rapids — Greg Preheim of Irene, SD. She says it was funded by the Forster Trust and by a grant from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.

Jansma says mural number 32 is on the drawing board, which will most likely go up in downtown Rock Rapids in June and might be unveiled during the community’s Heritage Days celebration, June 17-19.

Jansma says the only fundraising the Mural Society does is a biannual tour of homes in October, but they accept donations and are always looking for active board members. She says you can send her a letter or a donation if you’re interested to PO Box 428, Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246, or give her a call at (712) 472-3782. She says you can also contact the Mural Society’s president, Sandy Wynia.