Emergency Management Director Gina Hardin Says to Stay out of Floodwaters

Some of this bacteria comes from raw sewage getting into the water. While wastewater is treated before it is dumped back into the river, flooding can cause treatment plants to be overwhelmed, releasing untreated waste into the river.

by Laigha Anderson, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa / March 31, 2019

(TNS) - As Des Moines County goes through what is predicted to be a particularly long flood season, Des Moines County Emergency Management is reminding everyone to be safe.

"Do not go in the water," says emergency management director Gina Hardin.

Hardin said in years past she has seen children playing in flood waters in flooded parking lot. While playing in the river may be fine when the river is normal, playing in elevated water can be dangerous for a number of reasons.

For starters, the river can moves fast while it is flooded. According to the National Weather Service, 6 inches of fast moving water is enough to knock an adult over.

Another reason is debris may be present that makes the water dangerous. The water could also be infected with E Coli, Hepatitis, Tetanus and a variety of other bacteria.

Some of this bacteria comes from raw sewage getting into the water. While wastewater is treated before it is dumped back into the river, flooding can cause treatment plants to be overwhelmed, releasing untreated waste into the river.

This is not the case with the Burlington Wastewater treatment plant. However, there is no guarantee that other plants upstream have not had problems. It is always best to assume being in floodwater is dangerous.

Another important thing is not to drive through floodwater.

"You never know if the road has been washed out or what is underneath the water," warned Hardin.

The county closes roads underwater, but County Engineer Brian Carter said it doesn't always stop people from driving through them. According to the NWS, six inches of water is enough to cause a vehicle to stall.

When it comes to rushing water, one foot of water is enough to carry away small cars, and two feet will carry away most vehicles.

Emergency Management aren't the only ones alerting residents of Des Moines county to be careful. Alliant energy is also warning people to be careful with electricity and water.

Their first tip is to make sure any appliance that may be underwater is unplugged.

It is also important to avoid entering flooded backyards. This is especially important if water is touching anything electrical. And you should never touch anything electrical if you are standing in water or if your hands are wet.

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