Flash flooding hits parts of Monticello

Posted July 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm


River Road north of Monticello off Business Highway 151 was overtaken by floodwaters on June 26 after several days of heavy rain in the area. Water started receding later that afternoon. (Photo by Kim Brooks)


Two campers were partially under water Wednesday morning at Walnut Acres.


By Kim Brooks, Express Editor

After several days of heavy, intense rain last week, Monticello counted its blessings, as the flooding here in town could have been a lot worse.

Several areas of town took on standing water from short-lived flash flooding: Walnut Acres Campground, Riverside Gardens, Monticello Golf Club, River Road, Jay Iben Construction, Blue Inn Campgrounds and E. First Street behind La Hacienda.

Just a few weeks ago, Riverside Gardens and Walnut Acres took on water after similar heavy rains. This regular occurrence is beginning to be something of a nuisance.

Headlines in last year’s Monticello Express from this same week, July 4, 2012, read “Dry weather, heat cause problems.” The Midwest was just starting to see the onset of a terrible drought, setting record little-to-no rainfall last year. Quite the turn of events as this summer is shaping up to be one of the wettest.

In just 24 hours, Monticello saw 2 inches of rain. Some areas of Jones County were hit with even more rainfall, as Anamosa and Olin prepared for the worst with massive flood concerns along the Wapsipinicon River.

Last Wednesday morning, June 26, Monticello was in a flash flood warning till around 8:15 a.m., according to Jones County Emergency Management Director Brenda Leonard.

That afternoon, Monticello Mayor Dena Himes spoke with Leonard about the flash flooding conditions in Monticello. Himes said there were no reports of major flooding concerns along the Maquoketa River in Monticello.

As of noon on Wednesday, water was already receding in town.

City Administrator Doug Herman noted “little to no damage in Monticello” as a result of the flash flooding. He said the city used some pumps throughout the day and monitored manholes throughout town as a precaution. He added that some businesses such as the Blue Inn and Walnut Acres did have some clean-up expenses.

Some campers wound up stuck in the rising water at Walnut Acres. At least three were seen with water about one-third of the way up the camper.

“They couldn’t get to them,” said Loretta Beckman, who spends summers at Walnut Acres with her husband Pat. “There are a lot of people who decided to leave their campers. They didn’t think it was going to flood.”

The Beckmans nearly wound up stuck as well. Pat said that at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, there was no water on the roads.

“Just the back field was maybe two-thirds full,” he said.

By 7:30, however, the water had begun to fill the campground.

“I walked in water to get to the camper,” Pat said.

“He’s helping somebody else, and he decides to get the camper out, and then he’s stuck,” Loretta said. “I’m up here almost crying. I mean, that’s our house.”

Fortunately, Fred Iben came by.

“He had a four-wheel drive with a chain, and he gave me a pull to get out and moving,” Pat said.

As most of the heavy rain fell south of Highway 20, the Maquoketa River in Manchester was spared by flooding. If that area had received increased rainfall, the river here in Monticello would have flooded even more.

(Express Sports Editor Pete Temple contributed to this article.)


One of the greens at the Monticello Golf Club was encircled by flood waters.


A young deer tries to negotiate the water going across East First Street Wednesday morning. The deer was able to escape to higher ground before the water became deeper.