Dubuque RV Park Flooded; RV Park Evacuated

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July 28, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Dozens of people were evacuated from a mobile home park, mostly by boat, today (July 28) and a campground was evacuated as storms dumped heavy rain on eastern Iowa, flooding roads and basements and forcing the city of Dubuque to close its floodgates against the rising Mississippi River, the Waterlool Cedar Falls Courier reported.

Dubuque Mayor Roy Buoll said more than 14 inches of rain had fallen in the city since Wednesday night and it was still coming down at midday Thursday. Streets were eroding and manhole covers were popping off, he said.

The city was closing its floodgates along the Mississippi River, which had risen nearly 4 feet to over 16 feet by early Thursday afternoon. Flood stage in Dubuque is 17 feet.

"There's people in town on the high ground in the hills with basements getting flooding because of the hydraulic pressure of the water that's in the ground. No one area of town is immune to this," Buoll said.

A park along the river that's popular with campers was evacuated because of the flood threat, he said.

Nearly a foot of rain fell to the south of Dubuque in neighboring Jackson County. More than a dozen people were evacuated late Wednesday from a campground at Spruce Creek near Bellevue, said Lyn Medinger, the county's emergency management coordinator.

The creek in the campground flows to the Mississippi River. The creek was inundated by the rain, and then again when the Mississippi River went up so quickly.

"We got all the campers out and the boat trailers before the Mississippi River started to go on the rise," he said.

Buoll said he had not heard of any serious injuries, but firefighters called to a house fire late Wednesday had to pull back.

"They couldn't fight that fire and had to back away because the water was rising so swiftly that they didn't want to get the equipment trapped in the water," he said.

Just north of Dubuque, about 40 people were evacuated, mostly by boat, from the Valley Hills mobile home park when a nearby creek flowed over its banks.

"When we get this much rain, they can't get away," said Tom Berger, the county's emergency management coordinator. The evacuation took about two hours Thursday morning, and no one was hurt, he said.

Elsewhere in the county, roads were under water and approaches to bridges were washed out.

The city of Dubuque told drivers to avoid downtown because of standing water. The U.S. Highway 151/61 exit ramps were closed, as was the Julien Dubuque Bridge over to East Dubuque, Ill.

Sections of U.S. Highways 20, 52 and 151 also were closed, the Iowa Transportation Department said.

Buoll said he asked Gov. Terry Branstad for an emergency disaster proclamation for Dubuque and expected the governor to tour the area Thursday afternoon.

"I'm a native Dubuquer. I have seen nothing that comes close to this type of event," Buoll said.

The National Weather Service in Davenport said 10.13 inches of rain had fallen at the Dubuque airport by 7 a.m. today. That tops the previous 12-hour record for July, which was 6.28 inches on July 1, 1961. The amount of rain in Dubuque also topped the previous 24-hour rainfall record of 8.95 inches in August 2002 – and it was still raining.

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