Albians knew plenty early last Thursday that some heavy rains were coming. They just didn’t know how much and how fast it would come. The areas around Albia received about five inches of rain in under two hours. East of Albia rain totals neared 10 inches, causing roads to wash out near Blakesburg.
There was substantial flooding throughout Albia. Worst of all, storm sewers backed up and numerous homes had their basements full.
The worst of the flooding happened at an apartment complex on 12th Street south of Fourth Avenue East. Albia Fire Chief John Freshwater reported water backing into eight apartments on the lower floor. Eight families were displaced. The Albia Ministerial Association (using Salvation Army funds) and the American Red Cross lined up temporary housing for the families.
It was not unusual at all for homes to have a foot or more of water in their basements. A home on B Avenue East had two sump pumps that were both defeated as water backed up through drains.
Cars attempting to drive down Benton Avenue were stalled out because the high water got into their engine compartments. A couple driving in from the country to help move home items from the basement of friends drove through water over their wheels along Benton Avenue East.
Virtually no neighborhood in Albia was untouched by the storm sewer back-up.
City-owned property was not immune from the flood damage. The Carnegie Evans Public Library lost all of its lower level carpeting as water gushed out of a downstairs toilet. The Albia City Park took a serious hit as water cascaded through a rocked waterway along Highway 137 and the Rotary Club basketball court had over six feet of water running over it. Serious erosion occurred.
Albia Mayor Richard Clark said he had fielded dozens of calls from citizens beginning last Thursday about the city’s role in the storm sewer back-up, particularly in light of recent storm sewer improvements.
“When you have that much water coming down in that short of time, even the newest storm sewers become overwhelmed,” he said. “A large part of our problem remains because many home-owners over the years connected their roof gutters to drainage tile and directly into the storm sewers. Previous councils have discussed forcing homeowners to disconnect, but we haven’t done that to this point.”
Farm gully washers
Talking to a number of farmers in the area, the rains flooded numerous fields along Cedar Creek. However, the floods came quickly and left about as quickly, lessening the damage to crops.
More problematic for farmers were having numerous culverts and creek crossings washed out.
Two weeks ago, weather forecasters were eyeing a summer-long drought. Those concerns, at this point, are long gone, at least for most of Monroe County. Ironically, once you drive a few miles into Marion County, around Bussey and north, the rains that have soaked Monroe County have largely missed Marion County.