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.

Power companies, including crews from ITC, Alliant and CIPCO were out in force Saturday trying to protect low-lying areas from outages, according to the Gazette Online.

Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere said flood waters heading toward Hopkinton had largely dispersed in farm fields on the city's outskirts, according to CNN affiliate KCRG in Iowa.

"To my knowledge, there's been no injuries," LeClere said, according to KCRG. "Just an awful, awful mess."

Fred DeShaw, of Worthington, told KCRG that he was at Lake Dehli when he witnessed the earth collapse, opening up a swath about 125 feet wide and 30 feet deep . Then came a "roar" of gushing water.

“Anything and everything was going through,” DeShaw said, according to KCRG.

Their were reports of large debris being carried through the floodwaters.

“I’ve seen fully grown trees washed downstream in less than a minute,” DNR Environmental Specialist Tom McCarthy told KCRG.

The cities of Hazelton and Manchester were asking residents to conserve water because of the impact of the flooding to the cities' water systems, according to CNN affiliate KWWL.

The city of Monticello was asking for volunteers to help fill sand bags, according to CNN affiliate KGAN.

The National Weather Service on Saturday morning issued a flood warning for eastern Iowa, southwestern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. "The heavy rains of the past three days will keep levels in the major flood stage category into the afternoon along the Turkey River around Garber [Iowa] ... but levels will be falling by evening," the Weather Service said.

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Filed under: Iowa • Weather
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Amanda Whiting Duck

    The water is still rising here and so that everyone knows my cat mischief mouse came home shortly after. It is about halfway in my nieghbors yard and that was about 8pm cst and still rising. I can also smell the river in my house.

    July 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • FastBoat

      Sarah Palin can see it from her porch.

      July 25, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ty

    Welcome to climate change .....better get used to it.

    July 25, 2010 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Amanda Whiting Duck

      This dam was over 80 years old and needed to be fixed the massive rain was just the final straw in the dam to go.

      July 25, 2010 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Proud Iowan

    Not only did our emergency systems work, they worked so well and people responded so well, we are getting *no* reports of injuries or deaths. That is extremely amazing for something of this magnitude! It makes me extremely proud as an Iowan, that our people stayed coordinated, communicated well, and helped each other to get away from this. This is an amazing example of how well our governments (state and local) worked to protect our people.

    Now maybe people can stop complaining about the state audit–obviously they were spending time on the right stuff anyway.

    July 25, 2010 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mr. Davidson

    sure can remember down in CR ,whooo lordly she get to a rain'n and all heck gonna break loose ,jus neck deep up in the water.

    July 25, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Amanda Whiting Duck

      thats true and its a mess to clean up

      July 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. A-1 hauling

    I have my truck and trailer ready to hire.For flood clean-up.

    July 25, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. Chris Hann

    So why do they keep showing the video of the dam before it broke? Come on CNN, get with the plan. What we see here is the water flowing through the sluices, the bit of dam that has now gone is the section to the south which is still a wet road in your coverage. The dam water is now a good twenty feet lower and flowing like a river instead of stationary like a lake.

    July 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |