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Iowa City Flooding Emergency and Volunteer Recovery Relief Resources

Summary. This page provides links to emergency and volunteer resources for responding to the flood crisis in Iowa City. After the flood, the words Recovery Relief were added to the title. A related article is also available, Proactive Flood Containment and Disaster Planning – Responding to the Iowa Flood of 2008.

Helping With Disaster Recovery. The June 2008 Iowa flood exceeded what were considered 500-year-flood limits and caused much damage. Volunteers are needed to work with local authorities and agencies to help restore homes, businesses, and the University of Iowa facilities damaged by the flood. You can also help in the relief effort by giving to the University of Iowa Flood Relief Fund and the Corridor Recovery organization.

Flood Cleanup Safety. Those assisting in flood cleanup should take proper safety and health precautions. Some suggestions are below.

  • Contaminated Water Advisory. The water in the Iowa River now contains a variety of contaminants, toxins, and sewage. There may also be sharp objects. Avoid coming in contact with the water or contaminated surfaces. As waters recede, paths, road surfaces, bridges, buildings, homes, and other structures may be unstable. Even after the flood, standing water will likely be contaminated as well.
  • Pet Owner Advisory. Use caution when allowing pets to drink any water that may have been contaminated.
  • Respiratory Advisory. Those working on food cleanup either inside or outside of buildings should wear a face mask sufficient to prevent breathing in what appears to be dust or soil. These airborne particulates are partially dried dirt, but may also contain a mix of dried carcinogenic chemicals, paints, antifreeze, drain cleaner, asbestos, and/or dried sewage. Since even “clean” dust can present a respiratory problem, use caution when working around and in dusty areas. As of June 25, Highway 6 through Coralville is a dusty haze of dried up flood remains. Use caution in this area. At present, it appears that hundreds of people are working on cleanup without the benefit any respiratory face masks.

Ongoing News and Disaster Preparedness. All Johnson County residents are encouraged to sign up with the Code Red Citizen Emergency Notification System (as indicated on the official Johnson County website) and check the Johnson County website website frequently for news and information. In addition, those affiliated with the University of Iowa should look for UI related news by e-mail and also on the University of Iowa Homepage as well as the University of Iowa Flood News Blogspot.

Resources. The following resources were useful during the flood crisis and may continue to have news and information during the weeks and months following the flood.

Resources for Life Services. The headquarters for Resources for Life in Iowa City is an off-the-grid sustainable mobile facility located above the flood area. Our primary means of transportation for work, commuting, and services delivery is bicycle travel. Our computing systems and mission critical resources are redundant and distributed over a wide geographical area. Therefore, all aspects of Resources for Life continued to be operational during the June 2008 flood. As best possible, Resources for Life was primarily focused on disaster relief where it was needed most — as identified and requested by local authorities and agencies (see above list). An emphasis was placed on responding to computer and technical support needs.

About This Web Page. Within the first hours of going online, the Iowa City Flooding Emergency and Volunteer Recovery Relief Resources web page received hundreds of visits from people all over the United States and as far away as Canada, France, India, Korea, Philippines, and Singapore. We’re glad that so many people are finding this page useful. Every effort will be made to keep it updated with the latest news and information.

Archive of Communications During the Flood

Message from Johnson County Council of Governments. Below is a message from the John Yapp, Transportation Planner for the Johnson County area.

Title : Flood Info: Suggested Routes for Travel in Cedar Rapids/IC Corridor – Updated 6/14/08, 3:00 PM
Release Date : Friday, June 13, 2008
Release Time : 2:13:00 PM

Contact Person : John Yapp, Transportation Planner
Contact Number : 319-356-5252
Contact E-Mail : john-yapp@iowa-city.org

6/14/2008 10:49 AM

Media release for recommended local routes for travel into the Iowa City / Coralville area: 

TRAVEL INTO IOWA CITY IS DISCOURAGED EXCEPT FOR NECESSARY TRAFFIC. Use Interstate 80 for east-west travel through Iowa City / Coralville

From the west: For travel to the University Hospitals or west Iowa City, use Highway 1 South or Melrose Ave. For eastbound traffic on Iowa 6, use Camp Cardinal Boulevard to get to Melrose Avenue; The Highway 6 / First Ave area in Coralville is closed.

From the north: Interstate 380 and Highway 965 bridges over the Iowa River are closed. To get to the University Hospitals use Melrose Avenue. To get to the east campus, use Interstate 80 to Highway 1 North. Mormon Trek Boulevard is closed north of Melrose Ave. 

From the east: Use Interstate 80 to Coral Ridge Avenue for travel to Coralville. Dubuque Street south of Interstate 80 is closed. The Highway 6 / First Ave area in Coralville is closed. For travel to east Iowa City neighborhoods, use Herbert Hoover Highway/Rochester Ave or Highway 6 West.

From the south: For travel to locations west of the Iowa River, use Highway 218. For travel to locations east of the Iowa River, use Highway 6. Gilbert Street is closed south of Highway 6.

In general, avoid travel through the Iowa City metropolitan area if at all possible. 

The Highway 6 Bridge, Park Road Bridge and Iowa Ave Bridge are closed. Watch for electronic message board signs for information. Travel on remaining streets and bridges is likely to be congested; plan for travel delays. 

Avoid travel across the Iowa River possible. Interstate 80 is expected to remain open for east-west travel through the metropolitan area.

For travel outside of the Iowa City / Coralville metropolitan area on highway routes, contact www.511ia.org or call 511 in Iowa or 1-800-288-1047.

University of Iowa Closed from June 12 to 22. The University of Iowa has announced it will be closed from June 12 to 22. The following message was posted on the University of Iowa Website as of 20080613fr:

With the closure of University classes and programs, University faculty and staff are not to report to work effective immediately, unless involved in providing patient care, utilities, security, facilities or other essential services. Staff members in essential and/or emergency operations should communicate with their supervisors regarding the need to continue to report to work. Other staff should communicate with their supervisors to provide contact information in the event they are needed to provide essential service during the period of the emergency. In all cases, faculty and staff should take reasonable care for their personal safety in reporting for work. Shelter will be available for those staff members asked to remain on site to meet emergency staffing needs.

The city of Iowa City has developed transportation routes to assist staff in entering and leaving the campus area. Please use local news outlets for continued updates regarding safe transportation within the city. Faculty and staff not needed to meet emergency needs should stay away from the campus to assure their safety.

Individuals whose work place is closed or unavailable will continue to receive their normal earnings for the immediate period (June 13-22). Additional information will be provided to address any period beyond June 22. During this period of time, those who can perform work at home should do so, or consider volunteering their service to the community to meet emergency needs. Please watch for public announcements as to when University faculty and staff will be asked to return to the workplace.

Message from UI President Sally Mason. Below is a message from the University of Iowa President Sally Mason regarding the flood crisis.

From: President Sally Mason <president@uiowa.edu>
Reply-To: President Sally Mason <president@uiowa.edu>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 12:21:58 -0500
To: Members of the UI Community <:;>
Subject: [UnivAdm] Statement from President Mason on Flooding Situation

As you know, the flooding situation on campus, in the community, and in our region is growing more dire by the minute.  I am inspired by the way the UI family has come together in support of each other, our neighbors, and all of our state’s citizens who are in peril.  I am asking you today to hold onto that spirit of support and cooperation to the greatest extent that you possibly can in the days to come.

We will very soon see unprecedented threats to our campus and community, and our resolve and collaborative spirit will be both required and tested.  We will all be affected by this disaster in some way.  Please stay closely apprised of announcements from the UI regarding our situation, and please continue to help in any way you possibly can.

Rarely has the UI community been so tested, but I am confident that we will get through this historic disaster as we stand together. Thank you for all the help and support you have provided so far, and, again, please respond to this dangerous situation with as much patience, fortitude, cooperation, and assistance as you can.

Sally Mason

University of Iowa Crisis Contingency and Evacuation Planning. Below is a message regarding possible contingency plans for the University of Iowa community and facilities.

From: Doug True <president@uiowa.edu>
Reply-To: Doug True <president@uiowa.edu>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 11:20:57 -0500
To: “Faculty, Staff & Students” <:;>
Subject: [UnivAdm] Flood Instructions for Employees on High Ground

The University continues to make extensive preparations for predicted flood levels.  Information on Coralville Reservoir discharges and local and upstream rainfall influences our preparation to a large extent.  We are considering many possible scenarios, and want to ask faculty, staff and students to think broadly about how a variety of possible flood levels will affect them.

We urge all units, staff, faculty, and students on campus, including those further from the floodwaters, to consider the extent to which operations would be affected if essential utility services were disrupted, and to think carefully about contingency plans.

Services such as steam (hot water), chilled water (air conditioning), compressed air, electrical power, drinking water, and sewer may be vulnerable to the effects of flooding. We have directed considerable effort and resources toward protecting these assets. Nonetheless, we are asking you to plan for the possibility of their being compromised in some way.  For instance, decide which materials you would want to have with you if you are unable to access your office for several weeks. Be especially careful to plan for the removal of any irreplaceable material.

Lola Lopes, Interim Executive Vice President and Provost
Doug True, Senior Vice President and University Treasurer

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com