Dubuque learns from 1965 flood - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque learns from 1965 flood


Ask anyone in Dubuque about the year 1965 and they'll tell you how the city learned from major flooding. Since then they've built a flood wall and gate to protect the downtown and Port of Dubuque.

"It's really flooded," Kay Eberheart said.

Lon and Kay Eberheart are like many people in Dubuque.

"We're just now coming down to see what it looks like," Eberheart said.

They are stopping by the Port of Dubuque to catch a glimpse of the high Mississippi waters.

"Well it doesn't look high with all these walls around. We're just now coming down to see what it looks like and it looks like a much improved situation," Lon said.

Lon can say that because he worked in Dubuque in 1965 when the city saw one of the worst floods in history.

"You couldn't get across the bridge down by Highway 20 that was under water. And we had to take Grand View and go around," Lon said.

Over at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, Education Director Mark Wagner has a similar story.

"I saw the water come up, the sandbags go down and a lot of flooding in the lower section of Dubuque," Wagner said.

He was in high school back then. Today he teaches students about how the river works.

"It's pretty impressive to see the gazebo and some of the gates that go into the ice harbor that are closed and I noticed the water is hitting right up against those doors," Wagner said.

A demonstration at the museum shows how important a river wall is for a city like Dubuque.

"If we didn't have that flood wall you can kinda see how that water goes right into that area and floods those buildings," Wagner said.

In 1965 the water reached as high as what's now the river walk which is also a flood wall. That flood wall runs through the entire city.

"It connects completely from bluff to bluff it cuts along the edge of the Mississippi river. The only entry by water is the Ice Harbor and of course that gate has been shut for several weeks now," Wagner said.

Now people like the Eberheart's can continue to stop by the River Walk, remembering what life was like before a flood wall.

The Mississippi River at the Dubuque Railroad Bridge is expected to crest at 23 feet Tuesday night.

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