Elkader keeps flood waters out with Hesco barriers

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ELKADER, Iowa — When the river started to rise on Sunday, Elkader city leaders sprang into action.

“We started about 11 o’clock with a firemen’s meeting just to try to get things strategized,” said Elkader Mayor Josh Pope. “Sunday afternoon we called for volunteers and they came out of the woodwork. It was minutes after we posted that we needed volunteers that we had hundreds of people.”

Work went on to fill sandbags and the Hesco barriers. They were placed on the west side of the rising Turkey River, which in downtown is much lower than the bluffs on the east side of the river.

On Monday afternoon, Elkader officials were notified that the Turkey River had crested at 23.3 feet, a ways below the 2008 record of 27.7 feet. The barriers held, but riverfront businesses did take on a little water in the basement, which in Elkader is not uncommon.

“We get water that comes in off to the sides. Even though we spray foam this to try to insulate the best we can, we still get a little bit of water. We had water up to the edge of the stairs,” said Jeremy Bahls, of Bahls Insurance, a business right on the riverfront.

“The Hesco barriers were amazing. They are easy to set up. They’re reusable. We dump them with sand and they don’t move,” said Pope. “It’s through our main downtown businesses right up next to the water. They are the ones that took the most brunt of the flooding this year.”

The mayor said he was also thankful for all the volunteers.

“It’s amazing. You go from being a very dry summer to experiencing a flood overnight,” said Pope. “We didn’t get that much rain here, so it was all the rains up north that brought water down.”

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