Twisters, floods batter Iowa

BY GEORGE PIPER | DUBUQUE, Iowa | May 18, 1999

DUBUQUE, Iowa (May 18, 1999) -- Overflowing creeks and rivers deposited


water in hundreds of northeast Iowa homes late Sunday and early Monday.

The governor's office declared five counties -- Black Hawk, Buchanan,

Clayton, Dubuque and Fayette -- as disaster areas due to flooding. Delaware

County also

experienced flood damage. Rainfall amounts ranged from three to nine inches

across the area, although no flood-related injuries have been reported.

With water receding, state and local officials are conducting damage

assessments. American Red Cross personnel established shelters in Dubuque,

Independence and Manchester, while the Salvation Army also is assisting with

feeding survivors.

More than 1,450 people sought shelter at Red Cross or other facilities said

John Benson, spokesman for the Iowa Emergency Management Division. The number

displaced is likely higher, he said, since the figure reflects only those

who registered at shelters and does not include people who may have stayed


friend or relatives.

In Dubuque County, officials estimate 260 homes in Dubuque and Dyersville

sustained water damage after the Mississippi and Maquoketa rivers flooded.

Rising waters forced 150 families to leave their homes.

The tiny town of Dunkerton in Black Hawk County lay under water early


morning after Crane Creek flooded the downtown area and displaced 30 families.

Rescue workers and residents used boats to make their way through streets.

Water levels topped street signs and climbed halfway up one-story homes in

Independence along the Wapsipinicon River in Buchanan County. Officials had to

rescue six families trapped by high water.

Heavy flooding also occurred in Manchester, Volga, Fayette and Fairbank,

although details are unavailable.

The storms that rolled through here on Sunday also caused tornadoes in

western Iowa that killed two people and injured 17 in Harrison County near


Six homes were totally destroyed and several others damaged in

what Sheriff Terry Baxter called the worst twisters to hit in his 22 years

in law enforcement.

Two of the tornadoes cut damage paths at least five miles long, and left

six farms homes totally destroyed, Baxter said. The destruction occurred

mostly across rural properties, and it left little standing in its wake.

"There is nothing left. No outbuildings. Nothing," he said.

The American Red Cross and the Iowa Emergency Management Agency is

conducting assessments, and Baxter said local groups have donated food and

lodging to survivors. The fatal twisters produced the first tornado-related

deaths in Iowa since 1986.

Up to 36 tornadoes -- 21 in Iowa -- were reported on Sunday, according to the

National Storm Prediction Center. Twisters also hit in Colorado, Illinois,

Kansas, Nebraska and Texas, although no significant damage was reported.

Updated May 18, 1999

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