Wednesday was the rainiest day ever recorded in Decorah according to the National Weather Service. Chad Bird is the city manager in Decorah, where more than eight inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period.
“While we knew the forecast was for rain, the forecast was for quite a bit lower than that,” Bird says. “And, of course, the river wasn’t up that much Monday and Tuesday.”
Many residents in Decorah and other parts of northeast Iowa are dealing with the aftermath of flash flooding caused by those torrential rains on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Bird says this round of flooding won’t be as “prolonged” as it was in 2008.
“It was many days or weeks in 2008, I understand, but some of our high water marks yesterday were as high as in 2008,” he says. “Certainly the river isn’t as high, but some of the neighborhood flooding, some of the ditches and ravines, I’ve been told, received more water yesterday than they did in ’08.”
Nancy Sacquitne is with the Winneshiek County Public Health Department.
“People still need to be aware there’s a lot of water that’s still out there,” she says, “and people are still trying to come to grips as to what type of damage they’ve had in their homes.”
Decorah officials have asked the city’s residents to limit the use of the sewer system.
“Toilets, showers, washing machines until further notice,” Sacquitne says, “just because the sewer system is really running at full capacity, just until we get some of that water to recede.”
Record flood crests were set Wednesday along the Turkey River at Spillville and the Upper Iowa River at Dorchester. The basements of some homes that had filled with flood water have collapsed as residents started pumping water out. The Turkey River was still rising this morning at Eldorado, Clermont and Elkader.
Winneshiek County Recycling has begun accepting flood-damaged appliances today. Officials say refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, freezers, water heaters and any other appliance damaged in the flooding should be taken to the county recycling center in Freeport.
(Reporting by Darin Swenson, KDEC, Decorah/Photo courtesy of Winneshiek County Sheriff)