Iowa History Daily: August 2 - The Flash Flood of 1972

Iowa History Daily: On August 2, 1972, over six inches of rain fell over the three forks of the Little Maquoketa River leading to massive flooding throughout Dubuque County and the surrounding area. Over $1,000,000 in damages resulted as Durango, Daytonville, and Sageville all evacuated.

In an area of Iowa known for river-carved valleys raking through steep bluffs, flooding has always caused citizens' concerns. Massive floods in 1876, 1918, 1919, 1925, and 1937, prepared residents for the potential of heavy rains leading to substantial flooding. In 1919, seven people in the area lost their lives when nearly 4” of rain quickly led rivers and streams to jump their banks.

In 1925, significant rains over the month of June, nearly 11” in all, led the Little Maquoketa to rise four feet over the previous high water mark set in 1919. However, in 1972, a massive storm dumped 6” of rain into the North Fork, Middle Fork, and main channel of the river over the course of a few hours.

The flash flooding washed away homes, businesses, crops, and infrastructure as the torrid waters made their way downriver to the Mississippi. The record one-day rainfall climbed at least six feet over the bridge at Durango as residents followed evacuation orders to scramble for safety. Fortunately, the 1972 flood claimed no lives. However, those who lived through the rage of the rapidly rising river continue to remember today. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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