Decorah, IA Storm & Flood, May 1902




Residences Washed Away, Railway Tracks Floated Off, and Great Havoc Caused.

Decorah Ia., May 23. -- The damage by floods exceeds $100,000. Large sections of the Malwaukee [sic] track and most of the bridges of this vicinity are gone. About 30 residences are damaged. One family was carried three block in their home, and escaped by cutting a hole in the roof and climbing into the second story of another dwelling against which their house lodged.

Flood Fatalities.

JOHN GARVER died from heart disease while trying to regain entrance to his of the Milwaukee track and most of CHARLES CLARK was swept from its mother's arms when she was carried from her feet by the water.

Fire During Flood.

During the storm a fire started in a building where lime was stored and threatened the yards with destruction. The firemen worked in water running to their waists, and saved the adjacent property.

Burlington Road Crippled.

The Burlington's roundhouse was badly damaged, and the greater part of their ice house demolished. Much of their tracks, as well as most of their bridges is either gone entirely or so badly damaged it will be ay least a month before they get their trains to Decorah.

Tale of a Traveler.

La Crosse. Wis., May 23. -- George W. Kidder, a traveling salesman who returned from Decorah, Ia. this morning, says that the storm is the worst in the history of the town. Three lives were lost and there were many narrow escapes. The water came in a rush, there having been a cloudburst a few miles north. Decorah is located in a valley and the water rush into the town at terrific speed.

Aged Farmer Drowns.

Some farmers tried to save their cattle, one aged man being drowned in an attempt to get to the barn. Another man went into the yard, and when he started the water was only ankle deep. A few minutes later there came the rush of the torrent, and he was nearly covered by the water. He grabbed the handle of a pump, and managed to save his life.

Residences Washed Away.

Mr. Kidder says that scores of fine residences were washed from their foundations, and carried several rods away. In one house a barber lived with his invalid wife and three children. The torrent carried the house away, and he climbed out the scond [sic]-story window, clutched a floating tree and climbed to it. The house finally caught about three blocks from its foundation, and managed to get to a window and bring the family out, keeping them on the street until aid reached them.

Many Narrow Escapes.

Mr. Kidder also says that many other people had narrow escapes from being drowned. The railroads were washed out for seven or eight miles in all directions. Telegraphic and telephonic communication is entirely cut off.

Davenport Daily Republican, Davenport, IA 24 May 1902



Northwestern Iowa Said to be Submerged by Outpouring of Rain Clouds.

St. Paul, Minn., May 23. -- The entire northwestern portion of Iowa is submerged, and immense financial losses have been sustained. Jessie A. Gregg of St. Paul has returned from the inundated districts and reports great destruction of property by a cloudburst about 4 o'clock Wednesday morning, when not less than six inches of water fell.

Rush of Water.

The water rushed down the creekbeds and ravines, pouring a great torrent into Dry Rock creek, running through Decorah, and other good sized towns in the vicinity, all the running streams being out of their banks within 30 minutes. The streets became impassable, and the situation for three hours was one of great peril to everyone, but so far as Mr. Gregg learned only two lives were lost, an infant and an old man.

Tracks Washed Away.

Between Conover and Decorah, a distance of nine miles, seven miles of the Milwaukee track was washed out. Sixteen bridges in and about Decorah were destroyed, and ten miles of track were destroyed on the Iowa and Minnesota division of the Milwaukee.

Mr. Gregg says the damage at Decorah is estimated at $600,000.

Davenport Daily Republican, Davenport, IA 24 May 1902