My name is Aaron Batchelder and I’m the Wapsipinicon District Park Manager. On behalf of the Linn County Conservation Department, I want to share our flood story.
When people hear "Flood-Linn County", most people think about the Cedar River and the devastation that happened in 2008. Many people don't realize the Wapsipinicon River is in the northern part of Linn County and the County owns and manages six areas that are directly impacted by that river.
On Friday, September 23, half the employees from my district were assisting with flood prevention efforts at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office in Cedar Rapids. That same day, flood predictions for the Wapsipinicon River at Independence changed and water was expected to rise to major flood stage levels. In other words, water was expected to rise the 2008 levels – or worse.
With half our staff in Cedar Rapids that day, the rest of us worked into the night to get Pinicon Ridge Park campgrounds prepped for major flooding. This included removing all electrical components from campsites, moving more than 200 tables, and evacuating our watercraft concession. We also evacuated all of our campers.
Because we had done this many times before, we could predict (within a few inches) just how high the water would rise in Pinicon Ridge and our other areas. When all was said and done, the water crested at -- or just slightly higher -- than the Flood of 2008. We were right on the mark. We did the work and were prepared.
Post-flood, Pinicon Ridge employees worked tirelessly to get campsites repaired, electric components installed and park damage cleaned up, despite the fact that all campsites in Flying Squirrel Campground had been underwater. Less than two weeks after the Wapsipinicon crested, the campground looked brand-new again.
I can't say enough about our staff. They not only came together to help other county departments, but worked hard get our own areas and facilities back in shape for the public. It's just more proof that Linn County is one of the greatest places to work.
Photos below are of the Pinicon Ridge B Loop campground during the 2016 Flood and after the flood clean-up.