Raging floodwaters sweep girl to her death, force evacuations in Iowa
DES MOINES — A teenage girl died yesterday when raging floodwaters swept three cars off a road near Des Moines, and hundreds had to evacuate their homes as widespread flooding struck Iowa after three nights of rain.
In Ames, flooding contributed to a water main break that forced the city to shut off water to its roughly 55,000 residents and left the court at Iowa State University’s basketball arena under 4 feet of water.
Rivers and creeks rose after storms dumped 2 to 4 inches of rain on central and eastern Iowa overnight yesterday, with 6 inches in some spots, the National Weather Service said. A snowy winter and wet spring and summer set the stage for the flooding, but the recent storms were the big problem, weather service meteorologist Jim Lee said.
“The bulk of this has been caused by those recent extreme rainfalls, especially back-to-back-to-back,’’ Lee said.
Divers found the girl’s body near the submerged cars in Mud Creek about 2:20 p.m., more than 10 hours after she disappeared. Authorities said fast-moving water had hindered their search efforts earlier in the day.
Officials declined to identify the girl.
The cars were swept off the road between Altoona and Mitchellville about 4 a.m. Rescuers found 10 of the 11 passengers clinging to trees and hanging onto logs. Four were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Doug Phillips of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said that the creek is usually only 3 feet deep and 10 feet wide, but that early yesterday morning, “it looked like a river.’’
In Ames, about 30 miles north of Des Moines, officials shut off the city’s water supply at 2:30 p.m. yesterday after a water main broke beneath the flooded Squaw Creek. The break drained a city water tower, dropping pressure in the system and raising the possibility that the system’s water could become contaminated.
Officials warned anyone who still had access to water to boil it before consuming it. They said repairs could take up to 24 hours.