The Heat Is Online

Dubuque Swamped by more than 14 Inches of Rain in 12 Hours

Mayor declares Dubuque disaster

The  (Dubuque) Telegraph Herald, July 28, 2011

City officials held a press conference this morning to discuss what everyone is calling unprecedented flooding in the City of Dubuque.

Since 6 p.m. Wednesday parts of Dubuque received as much as 14.33 inches of rain in 12 hours - shattering previous records of about 6 inches of rain in 24 hours.

All firefighters were called into action during the night, something Fire Chief Dan Brown said has never happened in his career. At 1:30 a.m. the city's emergency operations center was activated. Mayor Roy Buol said he was requesting a local disaster designation for federal and state assistance. Estimates of damage are still days or weeks away.

Firefighters fought two significant fires during the night. A residential home was destroyed at 1580 Old Mill Road. The home was completely surrounded by water from a flooded creek nearby. Firefighters were able to evacuate the occupants but eventually had to retreat from the home because of floodwaters. One firefighter was taken to a local medical facility for injuries sustained at the fire.

The second fire was at Perkins restaurant on Dodge Street. Brown said the fire damaged the roof and soffit of the building and sustained smoke and water damage throughout.

Public Works Director Don Vogt said in his 36 years in the department he has never seen anything like this. The city is closing the floodwall as a precaution, because the Mississippi River rose 2.5 feet overnight and is expected to rise another two feet. Crews attempted to keep up with road damages and keep sewers open, though at times the water was too overwhelming. He said the hardest hit area appears to be in the St. Mary's Catholic Church and Elm Street area as well as the Millwork District.

As of 10 a.m., fire crew were rescuing people in the area of U.S. 52 North, near the Dubuque Driving Range. People were getting into boats carrying children and suitcases.

All but a few city streets were reopened by 7 a.m. this morning.

Some of the worst locations include the Comiskey Park area (24th and Elm streets, 22nd and Elm steets), 14th Street, and portions of 32nd Street.

Other areas to avoid include North Grandview Avenue near Dubuque Senior High School, Rosedale and West Locust streets, as well as Kauffmann Avenue.