Areas of northern Iowa hit hard by heavy rain last night and this morning can expect more tonight. A number of communities along the Highway 20 cooridor have flooded roads and homes after being pounded with up to 9 inches of rain.
Chris Legro is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “When you’re talking 9 inches…that’s actually twice the normal monthly rainfall for this area. So, anytime you’re doing that in one night, that’s certainly a significant rainfall,” Legro said.
The forecast calls for another one or two inches of rain along Highway 20 tonight. Areas south of that line can expect two to three inches. “It does look like the same areas are going to get some heavy rainfall tonight,” Legro said.
Flooding has closed down Highway 13 near Manchester and Highway 52 in Dubuque County. Dozens of homes are under water in Dyersville. In addition, the Iowa DNR has closed George Wyth State Park in Waterloo and much of Dolliver State Park in Fort Dodge. A campground at Backbone State Park in Delaware County is also closed and the DNR has moved 77,000 rainbow trout out of a fishing hatchery in Manchester. The Maquoketa River is within one foot of going over a retaining wall at the hatchery.
Since June 1, State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says Iowa has received a statewide average 16.5 inches of rain. The normal amount for the two month period is just under 9 inches.
Flooding in Manchester could reach levels seen back during flooding in 2004. The Maquoketa River in Manchester may reach a crest early Saturday morning that is just shy of that 2004 crest or sets a new record high. Jack Klaus, Public Information Officer for Delaware County Emergency Management, says that’s a big concern.
“Also still very concerned about the county roads, the wash-outs and the things that are out there — and that’s the kind of situation that can be very dangerous and get people in trouble,” Klaus says. “So once again we’d caution people to stay off the county roads if you can. Don’t drive through water, whether it’s flowing water or standing water, because we can’t be sure what the condition of the road is like underneath the water.”
Several businesses along West Main Street in Manchester, near the Maquoketa River, have flooded. Homes on the south side of town are also flooding. Manchester City Streets Superintendent Larry Schmidt put out a call for volunteers to help sandbag. He says they could use people to help out today and Saturday morning.
“In 2004, we were pushing 10,000 to 12,000 sandbags, so hopefully we don’t get to that stage, but you never know,” Schmidt says. “Better to be prepared.”
Dyersville is experiencing some major flooding problems, as water flowed over the Third Avenue Bridge and made its way to the steps of the St. Francis Xavier Basilica this morning. Buchanan County Emergency Management Coordinator Rick Wulfekuhle: “Efforts have been pretty good for the most part but people need to be aware because we’re not out of the woods yet. “Buchanan County specifically is under a flood warning. At the river gauge in Independence, flood stage is 12 foot. They’re not anticipating a crest for us until 20 foot which is eight foot above flood stage and that’ll put us at a critical point so people need to be really aware and not drive through standing water and take their own life safety as first priority.”
Volunteers in the nearby town of Lamont have been sandbagging, trying to save their lift station after nearly nine inches of rain fell there overnight. Buchanan County officials also had to deal with a lightning strike at the county courthouse and safety center Thursday night. In Clayton County, flooding has also been an issue. Joel Biggs is with Clayton County Emergency Management: “Police responded to a couple of homes that were flooded in their basements and we’ve got the Red Cross with them. We had a wing dike break around Elkport and we had to move one person out of their house.”
Biggs expects the worst will come for Clayton County in the next 24 hours as more storms and heavy rains affect the area later tonight.
(This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. with additional reporting by Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)