July 24th, 2010
06:18 PM ET

Dam failure, flooding 'an awful mess' in Iowa

[Update 11:01 p.m.] The Wapsipinicon River was expected to rise another inch, to 19.5 feet early Sunday, a Buchanan County official said late Saturday, according to CNN affiliate KCRG.

The news was a relief for residents who had heard the waters would surpass by two inches the record crest - 22.4 feet - set in 1999,  Rick Wulfekuhle, Buchanan's emergency management coordinator, told KCRG.

A little bit of panic set in Friday night when the National Weather Service said the crest could go to 24 feet, but we are faring very well,” Wulfekuhle told KCRG after floodwaters overran the area.

Gov. Chet Culver praised residents and emergency personnel for their urgent response to the dam break, KCRG reported.

“We are bringing all needed resources to bear on the Lake Delhi dam breach and will be working with the local officials in Monticello, Hopkinton and other affected communities and will assist and support them throughout the recovery and rebuilding process,” Culver said, according to KCRG.

Monticello residents were urged late Saturday to limit use of their sanitary sewers after flood waters shut down the city's water treatment plant, according to CNN affiliate KGAN.

Floodwaters overwhelmed a business owner's shop Saturday in Monticello, KCRG reported.

“I got everything I wanted out. There’s some stuff in there yet, but you can’t take it all,” Jay Iben told KCRG.

The city of Cascade, about 40 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids, has built a sand levee on Buchanan street to stop the rushing waters, according to KCRG.

The Red Cross was seeking residents who left their homes due to flood waters, KGAN reported.

Residents in northeastern Iowa were fleeing their homes Saturday as a dam burst, sending waves of water gushing through the landscape and spurring warnings to downriver communities, according to CNN affiliates.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver issued a Disaster Declaration for the counties of Delaware and Jones as flood waters raged through small cities along the Maquoketa River.

The Lake Delhi dam, about 45 miles north of Cedar Rapids, failed as a result of record flooding  - "a very unusually high amount this season," according to Jim Flansburg, communications director for Culver.

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Filed under: Iowa • Weather