Flash flooding, mud slides and collapsing basements are among the catastrophes some northeast Iowa residents are dealing with today after torrential rains overnight. Winneshiek County Sheriff Dan Marx says there is “still significant flooding” in areas of Decorah and Freeport.
“We have at least one home with a collapsed foundation…The fire department was recommending evacuations,” Marx says. “…There’s people with a lot of loss right now.”
Marx is concerned by reports of flooding along the Upper Iowa River, near Bluffton.
“Now the water is coming up still at a fairly fast pace,” Marx says. “Last I checked, river levels were nearly 14.5 feet which is considered major flood stage.”
Residents in Spillville were sandbagging overnight, but abandoned the effort early this morning due to rising water from the Turkey River. The sheriff says “a lot of houses” in Spillville are underwater.
“Still a bad scene down there as well,” Marx says. “I believe there finally is now one access into town which is better than before when we had no access in or out town. Water was going over all the bridges leading in and out of town.”
Freeport, Spillville and Bluffton are the areas of greatest concern to the sheriff. Decorah officials have pumps operating at full capacity, trying to keep the city’s drinking water supply from being swamped by floodwater. A strong thunderstorm rolled through northern Winneshiek County late this morning and more rain is in the forecast.
“If that rain hits, obviously the ground can’t take any more moisture than what it already has, so it’s going to get worse,” Sheriff Marx says.
The Winneshiek County Engineer warns residents some roads are “completely impassable.” Crews believe a section of one county road has completely washed away in the flooding and cannot be repaired.
Chickasaw County authorities say they’re searching for someone they believe may have been swept away in the flooding before daybreak. A car was found in a ditch near Lawler, but no one was inside.
(Reporting by Darin Swenson, KDEC, Decorah)