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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell endures serious storms

Grinnell experienced minor flooding during the last week. Photo by Zoey Kohler

After last week’s heavy rains, the county closed 12 roads in total. As of now, five of the 12 have reopened. Many residents of Poweshiek County have reported flooding in their basements and other damage. 

Most of the street flooding in Poweshiek County occurred in the southeast and northeast parts of the county, which are some of the more rural areas, according to Brian Paul, emergency management coordinator for Poweshiek County. In Grinnell itself, there was minor street flooding, in which the storm sewers could not hold the amount of water that was coming down. In some of the more rural areas of the county, the water has not yet receded enough for the streets and roads department to go in and assess the damage.

“The amount of damage that we’re getting from the streets being closed and the number of reports of basements flooding, we’ve gone ahead and applied for that,” Paul said. “So we [don’t] have an exact dollar amount of course, until the water levels go down and we can go in and put a dollar figure on the damage, but we will be able to meet or exceed our dollar amount to open up that individual assistance, which is why we’ve gone ahead and done the declaration now.”

The streets and roads department can monitor and put up barricades at some of the low-lying areas that have flooded in the past. They can put in culverts, structures that allow water to flow under roads from one side to another. Paul said that while emergency management does its best to prepare for any potential storm damage, there are limitations. 

“We do as much as we can in the low-lying areas,” Paul said. “However, sometimes they (culverts) can overflow and cause damage and wash out and things like that, so, we do the best we can with what we have to help mitigate those.”

The county is in the process of opening a disaster declaration to ask for additional resources from the state. A disaster declaration opens up the county to state resources, including any equipment the state and roads department might need and individual assistance grants. In Poweshiek County, a family of three with a household income of $41,600 or less can get $5,000 grants to cover damage repair costs for flooding, according to Paul. To get the governor to sign a disaster declaration, the county has to incur damage above a certain threshold. 

Steps that individual citizens can take, Paul said, include having basement water pumps and backup generators, as well as having kits ready with supplies for at least 72 hours in case of a disaster. After 72 hours, Paul said, help should generally be able to arrive. For emergency preparedness checklists or to sign up for emergency alerts and notifications, visit

Grinnell experienced minor flooding during the last week. Photo by Zoey Kohler
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