Unprecedented Waukon flooding devastates businesses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Unprecedented Waukon flooding devastates businesses

Unprecedented flooding early Sunday morning in Waukon left a number of downtown businesses with several feet of water.

Mud covered the floor Sunday morning at Cunningham Hardware and Rental. It was the remnant of an overnight flood the likes of which owner Dan Cunningham had never before seen.

"We started the business here in '89, and we haven't had any water problems at all," Cunningham said. "Maybe a little trickle in the basement if they had a heavy storm, but nothing like this."

On the first floor, the floodwater got as high as 16 inches.

"In the other room, it's probably another two feet," Cunningham said, pointing to an adjacent room, where the floor tile had buckled in the flood.

If those two floors had water, that means the basement below his store was completely filled with flood.

"It's pretty devastating. I mean, there's a lot of wasted merchandise there," Cunningham said. "Lot of equipment that may not be fixed."

Along the lower-lying stretches of First Street Northwest and West Main Street in Waukon, business owners and volunteers dumped and shoveled and sprayed and cleaned, leaving trails of muck trickling out storefront doors.

Waukon mayor Loren Beneke was on the scene Sunday morning.

"There are people who are obviously a little distressed because they've lost quite a bit," he said. "Right around where we're standing here, the water was up far enough where it destroyed a lot of the newspaper office."

The water line, like the one halfway up the Waukon Standard Newspaper building's office door, left no doubt as to what Mother Nature spared and what she did not.

"No personal injuries that anybody is aware of at this point, so, yeah, that has been a big plus," Beneke said.

While the losses were all material and it's of course good nobody was hurt, Cunningham still has no small task ahead of him.

"There's obstacles in the world, and this is just another bump," he said. "Big bump, but it's a bump."

Cunningham wants people to know he's still open for business.

"I've always based my store on customers, and here - again - in the only hardware store other than a farm store, I want to keep them going," he said. "My goal today is just to keep this first part, this 2,000 square feet, get it open so it's operational and stuff like that."

With the threat of more rain still looming, however, these businesses are not out of the woods -- or the mud -- just yet.

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