One year later, Lake Delhi making recovery progress - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

One year later, Lake Delhi making recovery progress


It's been almost one year since the catastrophic dam breach at Lake Delhi in Delaware County.  Massive rains caused water to run over the top of the dam in the overnight hours of July 23.  The pressure of the water caused the dam to give way, causing flooding that left some properties in ruins. 

Since then, the community's pulled together in an effort to see Lake Delhi restored.

Little remains of the Lake Delhi Dam.  One year after the dam failed following torrential rains, there is still some debris littering the land.  Now that only a stream remains of what was a beautiful lake, there are no tourists this summer, which is a tough blow for area businesses.

"This is certainly an eastern Iowa issue.  The economic impact for everybody is huge.  With us, being on the lake, obviously it's a little bit more.  I've talked to some people in Manchester that are business owners that are down 25 to 30 percent this year," said Chris Stender with Hartwick Marina.

But Hartwick Marina, and many lakeside residents, remain optimistic about the future.  Take lifetime lake resident Marcheta Cooey for example.  Her daughter's home took on three feet of water, and it was a six month process for the family's property to be restored.  Cooey has been astounded by the community's support to make progress toward recovery possible.

"I think it's fantastic.  People just stepped up.  People came from all over to help," said Cooey.

As further evidence of that support, just a few weeks after the dam breach, a local group organized the Community Fund to Rebuild Lake Delhi.  So far, it's raised nearly $1.3 million.  Right now, engineering studies are underway to determine how the new dam should be built. And it's hoped additional private money and bond funding can be secured to bring Lake Delhi back.

"I don't want to see a creek.  I want to see boats going by, and business as usual, and everybody having a good time, you know, and having the breach as a distant memory.  That's my dream," said Laurie Kramer with the Community Fund to Rebuild Lake Delhi.

It's a dream that many along the lake hope becomes a reality soon in order to help revitalize the area following a major disaster.

The budget just approved by the Iowa legislature includes the state's intent to fund the current engineering studies, along with funds to help with the rebuilding of the dam, once those studies are completed.  That will help in paying for what could be a $10 million price tag to restore the dam and lake.  In the best case scenario, Lake Delhi could be back by the fall of 2012.          

Also, four new trustees were recently appointed to the Lake Delhi Association board, which will allow the board to pursue bond financing for the dam rebuild.  Other board terms are up for election this year.  Here's who's running:  Bruce Schneider faces Morey Wruck, and James Willey faces Edward Schmidt.  A special election will be held in two weeks, on July 19, to fill those positions.  It's set to be a hotly contested race.

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