Heavy rain last night and early this morning inundated storm sewers in several northeastern Iowa towns, bringing flash flooding in streets and forcing dozens of people to flee their homes. Clayton County emergency management director Joel Biggs says his area got ten-inches of rain in about five hours, creating a fast-moving flood in Marquette that carried all kinds of debris into the streets — and homes.
Biggs says Marquette "had some retaining walls that came down over by the casino. The drains there didn’t take the water well enough so we ended up with probably six-feet of water in that area and they flooded some trailers and houses. I talked to the police chief and the mayor from Marquette and they estimate about 500-thousand dollars worth of damage." He says the bulk of that damage is to the storm sewer system and to at least nine trailers and seven homes.
Biggs says the nearby town of McGregor also had very heavy rain between ten P.M. and three A.M., which brought extensive flash flooding. He says, "We had, at one time, about ten or 12 inches of water in the main streets in McGregor. There were houses that were getting flooded in their basements and so the city was basically evacuating certain areas." Biggs says emergency teams were banging on doors at three A.M., warning residents to evacuate. He says an emergency shelter set up by the Red Cross in McGregor had up to 50 people in it this morning, though he says no one was reported hurt.
Biggs says: "We were fortunate that way. We didn’t have any injuries. People were inconvenienced. They had medicines they needed to get to in some of the homes but they had to wait. We’ve just finally drained that area where the trailers and homes were so people can start moving back and to do their clean-up."
City crews in both towns are working to clear debris and mud from the roads. Elsewhere, other cities, including Dubuque and Maquoketa, report flooding overnight and some 30 counties in Iowa’s eastern third are under flash flood watches or warnings.