Iowa levees feel weight of Mississippi
DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNN) -- Floodwaters along the Mississippi River crept toward their predicted crests Saturday, as residents, wary of more rain in the forecast, continued to sandbag their riverfront communities.
A levee started seeping around 3 a.m. close to Davenport's waterfront, after a hose pumping out water sprung a leak. National Guardsmen monitoring the dikes saw the problem and had it fixed by 5:30 a.m., said Sgt. 1st Class Tony Brown.
Ninety miles up the Mississippi River in Dubuque, more than 100 homes remained under a voluntary evacuation Saturday after a levee there sprung a leak the day before.
Davenport Mayor Phil Yerington shoved off criticism of his city's lack of a permanent sea wall. Critics point to Rock Island, another Quad Cities town, where a flood wall has kept the water at bay.
The mayor said city officials decided to take their chances with occasional floods.
"It was a decision that was made, and because of that, we've become very good at setting up temporary dikes," Yerington said. "We are ahead of it this time. We feel pretty good about where we stand right now."
The water level was at 20.7 feet Saturday, expected to crest in Davenport between 22 and 22.5 feet Tuesday. Sitting on the city's temporary 23-foot dike, the mayor said his city was protected so far.
All eyes were on the weather forecast. Davenport was expected to have showers and possible thunderstorms through Sunday, with more rain possible through Tuesday. Farther north, rain was falling in the Twin Cities and was forecast to continue through Monday.
"Anything that rains here won't affect us, but if the heavy rains come north like they've been talking, through the weekend we could see some problems," Yerington said.
He estimated as many as 450,000 sandbags have been filled and distributed in the past seven days. "We're as prepared as we possibly can be. We just need the weather to cooperate with us now."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is monitoring the floods, which already have damaged numerous homes and businesses along the river.
The swollen Mississippi has already crested in Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin, and the National Weather Service predicted a slow drop of the river level beginning Saturday. But waters were expected to remain above flood stage for the next two weeks, the agency said.
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