Nearly two dozen members of a task force will meet for the first time this morning to discuss plans for restoring Lake Delhi. The lake was drained on July 24th when an 83-year-old dam gave way under pressure from several days of heavy rain.

Jeff Madlom, chair of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, is a member of the task force. He believes the dam will be rebuilt, but he’s stumped how to make it happen. “How that’s going to come about? Oh my gosh, I don’t think anybody has any answers right now. It’s too early for anybody to say how it’s going to be done,” Madlom said.

The rebuilding effort suffered a devastating blow this week when FEMA announced it won’t provide federal money toward the project. “There’s no other way to look at it – it’s devastating for the people who had hoped 75-percent of the money would come from FEMA, 10-percent from the state and 15-percent local match,” Madlom said. “To lose that possible 75-percent is devastating for anyone.”

Madlom says he often fished on the lake. He’s hoping to do so again someday, but the lake can’t be restored until something is built to hold back the water. “Whether the dam is functional or if it’s an earthen dam…there are so many options, but I personally feel that, yes, we’re going to have a lake back there,” Madlom said.

The president of the Lake Delhi Recreation Association, a private group that owns the dam, plans to appeal FEMA’s decision. FEMA officials say the lake is only used for recreation and the nonprofit association doesn’t provide an “essential government service to the general public.”

Today’s task force meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.