HAWARDEN, Iowa -- Additional flooding fears along the Big Sioux River eased Wednesday as predictions for the river's rise in Siouxland next week fell precipitously.
At Hawarden, authorities called off sandbagging efforts Wednesday after the latest National Weather Service forecast showed the Big Sioux cresting at the Sioux County city around 33.8 feet by March 28. Earlier projections had called for levels 3 1/2 feet higher than that.
“At this time we are no longer going to be filling sandbags as we had planned for Thursday afternoon. Sandbags have a shelf life of about a year and if the new projections hold true, the river will crest at levels lower then what we saw last week,” Mike DeBruin, Hawarden city administrator, said in a statement.
Downstream at Akron, the river is projected to crest at 22.7 feet by March 29. The river will continue to be at a major flooding stage in both Akron and Hawarden, but the high water will be limited primarily to agricultural land.
In Sioux City, the Big Sioux is projected to reach 33.3 feet by March 30. The river is currently at "action stage," according to the National Weather Service. The river is presently below flood stage, 32 feet, and won't rise above flood stage until the evening of March 29 or the wee hours March 30. With the new forecast calling for a crest nearly 3 feet lower than Tuesday's prediction, the river level currently does not pose a threat in the Riverside neighborhood or any other area of the city, Sioux City Fire Rescue tweeted Wednesday.
In Dakota Dunes, city officials are "assuming (river levels) will be somewhat similar to what we saw last weekend," said Jeff Dooley, Community Improvement District manager for the planned community in southeast South Dakota.
The Big Sioux River crested at 37.42 feet Sunday, and the Missouri River was just below 30 feet. Flooding damage in Dakota Dunes was minimal, though 260 households were briefly evacuated in the middle of the night Sunday.
Dooley said preventative measures, including the securing of storm and sanitary sewers and sandbagging, will remain in effect through the coming flood event.
North Sioux City planned a public meeting Wednesday night to discuss current and future river levels.
Given the higher forecasts earlier in the week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem encouraged residents of the Big Sioux River Valley to prepare for flooding.