Severe Weather Pummels Iowa

July 26, 2010

The Lake Delhi dam in eastern Iowa failed July 24 as rising floodwater from the Maquoketa River ate a 30-foot-wide hole in the earthen dam, causing water to drop 45 feet to the river below and threatening the small town of Hopkinton.

Northeast Iowa has been inundated with torrential rain in recent days with as much as 9 inches being reported in some locations. The Maquoketa River at Manchester crested early Saturday afternoon at 24.53 feet – more than 10 feet above flood stage and well above its 2004 record of 21.66 feet- before it began to slowly recede.

Jack Klaus, a spokesman with the Delaware County emergency management office, said warning sirens were sounding in Hopkinton as water began to surround homes there in the afternoon.

The river had breached two levees on either side of the concrete dam structure.

“The enlarged breach on the south side of the dam and the new breach on the north side of the dam pose a very dangerous situation for anyone below the dam,” Klaus said.

Areas below and above the dam had been evacuated, including numerous cabins and homes – as many as 700 – above the dam because of high water.

“There’s going to be significant losses of property there,” Klaus said.

About 20 miles farther downstream in Monticello, the Jones County Fair was being held. The fairgrounds are along the river on the northside of Monticello, a town of about 3,600 people, and some activities and a concert for later Saturday were canceled.

Police Chief Britt Smith said about 50 homes, including two mobile home parks, were evacuated and while mandatory evacuations were not ordered for a couple of streets that could be affected, residents were advised to head to higher ground.

The National Weather Service has confirmed the touch down of a tornado a day earlier in Indianola, Iowa. Meteorologist John Hinsberger says the weather service has verified the report of a tornado touching down about 8 p.m. on July 23. He says there were initial reports of homes damaged northwest of the city.

On July 22, one person suffered a minor injury and many buildings were damaged after a storm slammed into the northwest Iowa town of Maurice, Iowa, with winds up to 100 mph.

The storm struck about 12:30 a.m., damaging up to 20 homes and destroying one. The person who was injured was in bed when a window shattered causing minor cuts, said Nate Huizenga, the Sioux County emergency management coordinator. The injured person was treated at the scene.

Homes that were damaged had broken windows and roofs and siding that were blown away. Several homes also were damaged by falling trees, Huizenga said.

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