DES MOINES, Iowa – With more rain in the forecast, folks in Des Moines’ Birdland neighborhood are keeping a close eye on Des Moines River levels. Four years ago, almost to the day, we introduced you to Josie Moorman as she was scrambling to save whatever she could from her Birdland neighborhood home just hours before it was flooded. Tonight, with all this rain, she’s just as worried. Flooding is still a touchy subject. “Oh very touchy,” Moorman tells us. “Very. And it’s no fun to get flooded out. No fun for the water to come in your home and destroy everything. That’s no fun.”
Like so many of her neighbors, Moorman lost everything in 2010 after the Birdland Levee breached. Much of what they lost were things they replaced after the neighborhood flooded two years earlier. “You don’t have nothing left. You have nothing,” Moorman says. “What you have here is full of yucky mud, slime from the river, rats.”
After the 2010 flood, and after being on a waiting list for 17-years, the Army Corps of Engineers came in and strengthened the levee, making it wider and about three feet higher. A steel floodgate was also added that can be rolled across Saylor road. At least for now, the city isn’t worried about flooding here.
“What we’re having now isn’t even a test of that levee,” says Public Works Director Pat Kozitza. “That levee is in excellent condition, it’s a Corps levee, and we expect that if we do get much higher flows it will hold up just fine.”
But that does little to comfort folks living here; folks who have already lost too much to floods. “It’s scary. I get scared because they say that we aren’t gonna get it. But then they say can’t guarantee it. And it’s coming up pretty fast right now,” Moorman says. “That levee can’t hold forever.”
The Des Moines river would have to go up another 16-feet in order to top the levee protecting the Birdland neighborhood. That would be the highest on record and six-feet above the floods of 1993.