Image: Flooding in Iowa
Julie Koehn  /  AP
Maquoketa River water gushes out of the Delhi Dam as areas surrounding the Maquoketa River continue to flood on Saturday.
updated 7/25/2010 1:54:10 PM ET 2010-07-25T17:54:10

Flooding from the Maquoketa River after an eastern Iowa dam failed has damaged dozens of homes and businesses, causing millions of dollars in damage in Monticello, a city official said Sunday.

The Lake Delhi dam failed Saturday as rising floodwater from the Maquoketa River ate a 30-foot-wide hole in it. Areas below the dam, including in Hopkinton and Monticello were evacuated.

The river crested upstream of the dam at Manchester early Saturday afternoon at 24.53 feet — more than 10 feet above flood stage and well above its 2004 record of 21.66 feet — before it began to slowly recede.

Monticello Public Works Director Dana Edwards said about 50 homes and 20 businesses had major flood damage and the city's sewer plant had been flooded and shut down about 7 p.m. Saturday.

Most of the city's 3,700 residents could flush their toilets, but the waste was pouring into the river. Still, environmental damage shouldn't be great because the waste was being diluted by the flood water, Edwards said.

The city's drinking water system was working, "but we are asking people to use as little water as possible," Edwards said.

Damage to private property would likely be in the millions of dollars, Edwards said. The cost of repairing the sewer plant wouldn't be known until workers could get inside to assess the damage.

Pumps from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city were being put into the city's main sewer lines to try to keep water out of residents' basements.

The hydroelectric dam on the Maquoketa River that created Lake Delhi in the 1920s is no longer used for power but maintains the lake for recreational purposes.

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Video: Heavy rains cause Iowa dam to fail

  1. Transcript of: Heavy rains cause Iowa dam to fail

    LESTER HOLT, co-host: But first, let's start with the weather. Everyone's talking about it. A dam collapsed in Iowa , causing hundreds of residents to evacuate. The Weather Channel 's Janel Klein joins us from Delhi , Iowa . Janel , good morning.

    JANEL KLEIN reporting: Good morning, Lester . Well, people who saw this dam collapse say it was straight out of an action movie, watching as the rushing river water punched a 30-foot hole in the dam, taking with it trees, power poles, even a house. The road on each side of the dam is also gone, crumbling into the water as about 700 people were forced to run for their lives. They only had about a five-minute warning from a siren before the dam broke. But, amazingly, nobody was hurt. This all happened after the area got about 10 inches of rain in just 12 hours, a storm, Lester , people here are calling "an act of God."

    HOLT: Has there been a break from the weather there at all?

    KLEIN: There has been a good break. It's a beautiful morning here in Delhi , but the damage is not over. A lot of homes and businesses, as you can image, are damaged from the storm. And the concern now is downriver where this water may be emptying into the Ohio , the Missouri , the Mississippi River , so authorities are keeping a very close eye on those areas in case similar storms could cause problems there was well, Lester .

Photos: Iowa floods

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  1. Water from the Maquoketa River surges through the Delhi Dam as it collapses under the strain of heavy rains on Saturday, July 24. People downstream were being evacuated as boats, propane tanks and buildings were pushed along by the rushing water. (Julie Koehn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Water pouring over the dam flows in and then out of the windows of the historic Independence Mill in downtown Independence, Iowa. (Rick Chase / Waterloo Couier via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Bystanders watch the water rise in downtown Manchester, Iowa, due to heavy rainfall. (Mike Burley / Telegraph Herald via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Kenny Lewis carries photos out of the home of his mother-in-law in Lake Delhi, Iowa. (Julie Koehn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Austin Cabalka, 14, rests on sandbags outside his father's downtown auto parts store after the Maquoketa River flooded downtown Manchester, Iowa. (Mike Burley / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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