Natural Disasters, Oil Spills and Community Effort
Over the past month a number of our NTPDA members have had to deal with weather related disasters. In Iowa there has been a rash of flooding and then in Rock Valley there was a major oil spill. Rock Valley is the home base of our President Scott Schelling. We sent an email to Scott to check up on him. We thought his answer mirrored so many of our members and their communities that we're sharing it with you:
"Sorry for the delay in responding. I have been out for over a week for various reasons including sandbagging and flood relief. We are getting back to normal, the river is back in its banks but we still seem to get rain every couple days so it doesn’t go down much. We set an all time record back in 2014 when the river got to 22.7 feet over floodstage. This year we topped out at 21.5. We were more prepared this time and we knew where and what to do so things went a little smoother, but ultimately we still got our butts kicked by the river. We were able to avoid the major property damage with the work we did and most people just had to empty their basements and pump water.(they still are pumping water) We took some steps after 2014 to prevent that same event in the future, we built a permanent berm on the north end of town to keep the river out and bought a couple huge pumps to pump out our storm sewers. When the river is in flood stage it is higher than our storm sewers and cant run away so we have to pump it out. And that takes a HUGE pump to keep up when you keep getting rain and everyone is pumping water out of their basements. We also made some changes to make the river flow away better so it don’t dam up as high. All the steps we took helped, but we still can do more. I’m sure we will have more ideas to help for future events.
The oil spill was just 6-7 miles upriver from us and I understand it was the worst oil spill in the US in the last 5 years. The last number I heard was 230K gallons spilled, and as of last Thurs, only about 100k of that was recovered. We could see oil in the river and of course it puddled up along the banks in the quiet water. You could smell oil all thru town on Thursday and Friday. We had to shut down the city wells to try to keep oil from getting into them. The DNR has been out and testing dirt in places as the river recedes to see how bad the contamination was. They have cleared the soccer fields and ball fields to be played on, they say the contamination was minimal in those areas. The cleanup crew that BNSF brought in was excellent, they went right to work with cleanup and repair and last Thurs the trains were running again down those tracks. We will see how long before they are finished with oil cleanup, but they don’t stand around, those people are here to work.
The silver lining of it all is the way the communities come together to fight back against the water and how they come out to help others that are in need. We again had several thousand volunteers from the surrounding towns come to us and help, and they still are coming to help people they don’t even know with cleanup. This is the reason I love to live here, we don’t just throw up our hands and cry about it and quit, we show up any time of day, and help out people we might not know, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in chest deep water throwing sandbags all night, and we pick each other up when things seem like they are hopeless. It is a beautiful thing to witness, and it keeps you going even after no sleep, or when your muscles don’t want to go anymore. I love my town!!"
Scott Schelling - Rock Valley Tractor Parts