On this date in history two horrific rain storms have hit western Iowa. The first storm started July 2nd,1939. Thunderstorms that afternoon and evening dumped a huge amount of rain in Sioux, Crawford, Shelby, Pottawattamie and Audubon Counties.
The downpour weakened a railroad bridge near Avoca. On the 3rd of July at about three in the morning a Rock Island freight train wrecked. The National Weather Service cites news accounts of the day, indicating the train’s locomotive turned over after clearing the bridge.
Six cars went into the river and 13 other train cars were wrecked. While injuries were reported, no one was killed in the wreck. The second storm happened in 1958, starting July 2nd and continuing into the early morning hours of July 3rd. A foot of water fell in about six hours over the Nishnabotna River Valley, leaving a path of destruction from Audubon to Griswold.
The wall of water was a mile-and-a-half wide when it hit Exira, sweeping houses away. Nineteen people died. More than 68,000 acres of farmland was flooded and 15-thousand head of livestock were killed.