Volunteers Work To Save Homes, Businesses From Floods

At least 20,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday. Hundreds of blocks are submerged, threatening the city's drinking supply. Emergency officials expect it will be at least four days before water levels are low enough to get crews in pump out the excess water.

About 200 homes are expected to have extensive damage due to the levee breach. Many of the same homes were also extensively damaged when the same levee broke in 1993. Minnesota Public Radio's Tom Weber talkes to volunteers of all ages, as they filled sandbags.

Levees Breached in Des Moines, Forcing Evacuation

Volunteers on Saturday load sand bags in Union Park, Des Moines, Iowa.

hide captionVolunteers on Saturday load sand bags in Union Park, Des Moines, Iowa.

Tom Weber/NPR

Officials in Des Moines, Iowa, have ordered a mandatory evacuation as a second levee in the city fails under the cresting Des Moines River.

Early Saturday morning, the river breached a permanent levee, flooding a nearby high school. Crews rushed to set up a temporary sand levee, but the rain-swollen river pushed through that barrier hours after it was erected.

As flood waters flow toward a residential area, people in more than 250 homes have been ordered to leave. Many residents in Iowa's capital city have already left following an earlier voluntary evacuation request.

Meanwhile, 100 miles east in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Cedar River is beginning to recede, but hundreds of city blocks are under water. Much of the city's drinking water is polluted and 10,000 people have left.

Officials say they can't start pumping water out of the city for several more days, however.

Since June 6, Iowa has received at least 8 inches of rain. That came after a wet spring that left the ground saturated. As of Friday, nine rivers were at or above historic flood levels.

Thousands of homes and businesses are under water in the state, and at least 3 million acres of corn and soy bean crops have been destroyed.

More thunderstorms are possible in the Cedar Rapids area over the weekend, but next week is expected to be sunny and dry.

Compiled from NPR reports, Associated Press

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