The floodwaters that deluged much of Iowa have done more than knock out drinking water and destroy homes. They have also spread a noxious brew of sewage, farm chemicals and fuel that could sicken anyone who wades in.
On Monday, Bob Lanz used a 22-foot aluminum flatboat to navigate through downtown Oakville, where water reeked of pig feces and diesel fuel.
“You can hardly stand it,” Lanz said as he surveyed what remained of his family's hog farm. “It's strong.”
LeRoy Lippert, chairman of emergency management and homeland security in nearby Des Moines County, warned people to avoid the floodwaters: “If you drink this water and live, tell me about it. You have no idea. It is very, very wise to stay out of it. It's as dangerous as anything.”
In addition to the poison in the water, there are mosquitoes, millions of them spawning in acres of standing water.
As some of Iowa's flooded towns began cleaning up Monday, others braced for new flooding risks, particularly in southeastern Iowa along the Mississippi River. Most requests for state aid were coming from Des Moines County, where the Mississippi was not expected to crest until Wednesday. The county had asked for a half-million sandbags.
Two more deaths were reported Monday, including a woman whose car was hit by a National Guard truck, bringing the state's death toll to five.