For pork producer Bob Lanz, Oakville, Iowa, it’s hard to imagine a worse scenario. On Monday, Lanz used a 22-foot aluminum flatboat to navigate through waters reeking of swine manure and diesel fuel. “You can hardly stand it,” said Lanz as he surveyed what remained of his family’s hog farm. Most of their 350 sows and their 800 piglets were lost.

It is a reality hard to comprehend that is happening across Iowa’s flood-ravaged farm areas. Livestock producers and farmers face the terrible situation of floodwaters spreading a noxious brew of waste lagoon contents as well as fuel and chemicals leaked from farm containers damaged by the flood.

Leroy Lippert, chairman of emergency management and homeland security in Des Moines County, warned people to avoid the floodwaters. “It’s very, very wise to stay out of it. It’s as dangerous as anything,” he said.

Ken Sharp, environmental health director for the Iowa Department of Public Health acknowledged that the floodwaters could make people sick. He also said that the sheer volume of water can dilute hazardous substances. In addition to the polluted floodwaters, the flood is also giving a prime opportunity for mosquitoes by the millions spawning in acres of standing water.

More than 2,500 Iowa National Guard are deployed across the state. More than 1,000 buildings are at risk and the raging Iowa River has cut Iowa City in half with record-setting flooding. The National Weather Service called flooding in Cedar Rapids a "historic hydrologic event" as the river over-topped its banks at 500-year flood levels, forcing the evacuation of nearly 4,000 homes.

Some of the worst flooding is yet to come, with Coralville Lake not projected to crest until Tuesday, with the river to follow at an estimated 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

"As we begin to focus our efforts on disaster recovery, the presidential disaster declaration will help thousands of Iowans get back on their feet," said Governor Chet Culver Sunday. “Iowans are strong. Iowans are resilient. We will rebuild this state, and we will be stronger and better than before."

Source: Kansas City Star, Reuters