School Climate & Safety

Schools in Iowa, Minn., and Wis. Cope With Mississippi Flooding

By Catherine Gewertz — April 25, 2001 | Corrected: February 23, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: Wabasha-Kellogg High School is located in Wabasha, Minn.

Some high school students in the Midwest skipped class to help sandbag buildings in flood-threatened towns along the Mississippi River last week, as rising waters closed some schools and turned others into shelters.

The river, swollen by abundant rainfall and melting snow, was cresting at 4 feet or more above flood stage last week, turning low-lying lands into shallow ponds that forced hundreds in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to flee and many more to frantically run water pumps.

The Mississippi had crested near towns in southern Minnesota, but was still rising to the south, with peaks expected last weekend and this week. By late last week, the floodwaters had had only a moderate impact on schools in most towns along the river, though forecasts of more rain heightened concerns.

In St. Paul, Minn., district officials said schools were unaffected by the rising waters last week, though some parks and the city’s downtown airport were swamped. The Minneapolis schools also were unaffected.

But in cities and towns all along the river, students turned out over the past two weeks to help those in trouble.

Students in Wabasha, Minn., 90 miles southeast of Minneapolis, were a typical example. The week before last, as the river crested there, about 120 of the 450 students from Wabasha- Kellogg High School joined a dozen staff members in taking time off school to fill 11,000 sandbags that were used to shore up a dike protecting houses from the river, Principal Jane Johnson said.

“The students have been just wonderful,” she said last week.

Ten teachers who live on the Wisconsin side of the river had to drive 80 miles or more to find a passable crossing, Ms. Johnson added.

District Closed

Last week, to the south in Fountain City, Wis., the one-school, 800-student Cochrane-Fountain City district was closed when the main roads to the school, which serves several towns in the area, were flooded. High school secretary Mary Engler said students were disappointed when the prom, scheduled for April 21, had to be postponed until May 12.

Another 30 miles south, Logan Middle School in La Crosse, Wis., became an American Red Cross shelter, with a gym full of cots awaiting anyone in need, said Jerry Kember, the school district’s associate superintendent for instruction. Only a few people used the shelter, but it was being left in place in anticipation of more rain, school officials said.

The 7,700-student La Crosse district includes one school on French Island, in the Mississippi River, and buses there had to be rerouted because a key road was flooded, said Principal Dirk Hunter. Only a few children were absent from the 330-student Summit Elementary School, even though some students whose homes’ basements or first floors were flooded were staying with friends, Mr. Hunter said.

An hour’s drive south along the river, the Red Cross set up a shelter inside Bluff View Elementary School in Prairie du Chien, Wis. Portions of the town were under water, and some homes were without electricity. But as of late last week, there were no takers for the three dozen cots set up at the school or for the meals being offered there, according to Red Cross volunteer Heather Sonsalla.

In Davenport, Iowa, the schools were open, although some riverfront areas were swamped. Christie Wallace Noring, a spokeswoman for the 16,800- student district, said that high school students—and even a group of 5th graders—last week helped sandbag the historic business district of east Davenport, which lies near the river.

Ross Bergen, the emergency manager for Scott County, which includes Davenport, said none of the area’s schools was located in the flood plain. The river wasn’t expected to crest in the area until this week, but Mr. Bergen said he did not expect area schools to be affected.

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2001 edition of Education Week as Schools in Iowa, Minn., and Wis. Cope With Mississippi Flooding

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Can Districts Legally Mandate Student Vaccines? No, Two New Lawsuits Claim
Two large California districts are being sued over policies requiring vaccinations for schoolchildren by the end of 2021.
5 min read
Diego Cervantes, 16, gets a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena on May 14, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif.
Diego Cervantes, 16, gets a shot of the Pfizer vaccine at the First Baptist Church of Pasadena last spring in Pasadena, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center Higher Student Morale Linked to In-Person Instruction, Survey Shows
Educators see student morale rising since last spring, according to a new EdWeek Research Center survey.
4 min read
Second-grade students raise their hands during a math lesson with teacher Carlin Daniels at Pulaski Elementary School in Meriden, Conn., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.
Second grade students raise their hands during a math lesson in Meriden, Conn., Sept. 30.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
School Climate & Safety Law Against 'Disorderly Conduct' in Schools Led to Unfair Student Arrests, Judge Rules
The South Carolina ruling is a model for other states where students are still being arrested for minor incidents, an attorney said.
6 min read
Scales of justice and Gavel on wooden table.
Pattanaphong Khuankaew/iStock
School Climate & Safety A Rise in School Shootings Leads to Renewed Calls for Action
A return to in-person learning means a return to school shootings, advocates warn.
5 min read
Families depart the Mansfield ISD Center For The Performing Arts Center where families were reunited with Timberview High School Students, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Mansfield, Texas. Police in Texas have arrested a student suspected of opening fire during a fight at his Dallas-area high school, leaving four people injured.
Families were reunited Oct. 6 in Mansfield, Texas, after a student opened fire at Timberview High School in Arlington, leaving four people injured. Data show that the start of this school year has been particularly violent compared to previous years.
Tony Gutierrez/AP