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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Latest flood news from the University of Iowa

The following information was announced at the 1 p.m. flood briefing today: (An audio recording of the briefing, in mp3 format, may be heard by clicking here.)

--Sandbagging operations will likely be wrapped up later this evening as all parts of the UI campus that can be protected by a temporary dike will be protected. Don Guckert, associate vice president for facilities management, said the huge turnout of volunteers over the past week helped the university complete the sandbagging well ahead of next week's expected crest.

Guckert also said the previous sandbagging efforts on dikes that failed on the north campus were not in vain because it will allow recovery operations to begin much sooner. He pointed out that operations can begin once the water drops below the level of the breached dike. Without the dike, recovery would have to wait for months.

[NOTE: The university is encouraging volunteers to offer assistance to the City of Iowa City with its ongoing sandbag effort. 

Volunteer sandbaggers in east Iowa City should report to the Volunteer Staging Location at Regina High School at 2150 Rochester Ave. between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily. A map is available here. Volunteers will park at Regina and be transported by bus to locations where they are needed. 

Volunteers in west Iowa City should report to the volunteer staging location at the University Athletic Center on Melrose Avenue (across from West High School) and will be transported by bus to locations where they are needed. A map is available here. Bring a shovel and gloves if possible.

Volunteers should not try to drive themselves to sandbagging locations and should not attempt to cross the river to reach one of the staging locations. Also, volunteers and all residents of Iowa City should only report to volunteer stations on their side of town. For more information, call the Flood Hotline at 887-6202. Phones are staffed 24/7.]

--The university's electrical and steam plant has been taken offline because water has gotten into the basement and water levels are expected to reach the production equipment. Guckert said taking the plant offline before it's hit by floodwater will cause less damage and make it easier to re-start the plant after the flood.

--Jean Robillard, vice president for medical affairs, said the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is now receiving steam from its own back-up steam generator in Pomerantz Pavillion. A temporary boiler is expected to be operational within 72 hours to back up the back-up. He said steam is used for such hospital functions as sterilization, food service and heated water.

--Robillard said the hospital also has adequate medical and surgical supplies to last two weeks, and six days of fuel to power its back-up generators, should electricity fail.

--The Burlington and Benton Street bridges are expected to close later today. When they do, UIHC employees who live east of the Iowa River can still report for work by traveling Dodge Street to Interstate 80 to US Highway 218 to Melrose Avenue.

--The UI Department of Public Safety has opened a satellite office at Kinnick Stadium so that officers can respond to calls on both sides of the river once the Benton and Burlington Street bridges are closed. The Facilities Management department has also set up a satellite office on the west side of the river.

--Lola Lopes, interim vice president and provost, is hopeful that classes will resume the week after next so that students enrolled in summer classes will receive full academic credit and those students set to graduate at the end of the summer will be able to graduate.

--Student workers should not report to their campus jobs next week. They will continue to receive full pay for the week. Those workers should contact their supervisors.

--Evacuation of Hawkeye Court apartment was completed Friday, but the Housing Department was unable to notify all residents. Those residents unable to get to their apartments should call 335-9168 to make whatever arrangements are needed.