GREENE, Iowa — The Shell Rock River was rising over the weekend, and the people of Greene in Butler County were not sure how high the waters were going to rise.
The town has reason to be nervous. In 2008 and 2016, Greene saw flood waters surge from the banks to the community downtown, which is located close to the river. This time, though, the town was mostly spared. Not only did sandbags go up, the town also put up Hesco Barriers. The huge containers, which are filled with sand, form a wall against the water. The same system kept Cedar Rapids dry the last time the water rose in the area.
“We were a little bit apprehensive about going to all the work, taking everything out of our shop, and getting ready because we weren’t certain how bad it was going to be,” said Mark O’Brien, who runs an auto repair business near the Shell Rock in Greene. “We had everything up, just a lot of mud to clean up, and the floor needs to be washed once in a while anyways.”
O’Brien has marks on the window of his office, marking six feet of water in 2008 and five feet in 2016. This time, just a few inches ended up on his shop floor.
Across the street, Jay Majewski runs an auto service station. He was putting up sandbags by his business until a bigger wall of Hesco Barriers was put up.
“That river gets so much water and we get so much rain up north, it just comes down the river, and then we have problems any more,” said Majewski. “It’s amazing, people from the community, everybody from around here comes and helps. We couldn’t do it without them.”
O’Brien said he counts on the Iowa Flood Center to assist with predictions as to what the Shell Rock will do. One problem now is a stream monitor that is not functioning.
“Stream monitor, just south of Rockford, just below where the Winnebago dumps into the Shell Rock, and that one isn’t working,” said O’Brien. “There’s a lot of guesswork which goes into it.”
The Greene City Park did get a couple of feet of water this time. This weekend is the Annual Green Days River Celebration, and many events planned for that same park.
As the water recedes, the plan is to hold Greene River Days 2018 this Friday and Saturday. For more on Greene River Days, click here.