Branstad declares disaster after storm

POCAHONTAS – State workers delivered 10,000 sandbags to waterlogged Pocahontas County after Gov. Terry Branstad issued a disaster proclamation in the wake of heavy storms during the overnight hours of Monday and Tuesday.

More than 6 inches of rain fell in Laurens in the northwestern part of the county, according to Russ Jergens, the county’s emergency management director.

Sheriff Bob Lampe said Wednesday that the county’s drainage ditches and creeks are full of water, and added that evacuations could become necessary if more rain falls. Some apartment buildings near a drainage ditch in Pocahontas are among the sites that could potentially be evacuated. Lampe said the water in that ditch is about two feet from its top.

“That’s being monitored very closely,” he said.

Lampe said the northern part of the county, including Laurens, Plover and Rolfe, was hit the hardest. He said many fields are flooded there.

Rolfe Fire Chief Glenn Munson said Pilot Creek, which flows by that city, is “well over its banks.” He said residents have reported groundwater seeping into basements, but no water from the creek has entered any buildings.

Munson said a berm was built to protect the city’s sanitary sewer lift station from rising water.

The sandbags were delivered by state Department of Transportation personnel. The sandbags were the only kind of assistance county officials requested, according Lucinda Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.

Although a few trees and branches were knocked down, there was relatively little wind damage in the county, according to Lampe.

County Engineer Jack Moellering said a handful of county roads are closed and others were damaged but remained open to traffic.

“It’s lots of places that are lightly damaged, but that adds up,” he said.