Rivers of water overtake Marquette, McGregor streets following torrential rains

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Water covered McGregor’s Main Street the evening of Sept. 12, after torrential rains fell across the area, causing flash flooding and mud slides. (Submitted photo)

McGregor Mayor Lyle Troester reported little damage from the storm, just a lot of water and debris. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Marquette’s Twin Bluffs neighborhood on Pleasant Ridge Road was underwater last Thursday, and some homes were infiltrated by the raging flood. (Submitted photo)

Marquette’s city workers were out early Friday morning, Sept. 13, clearing away a large pile of debris that was deposited onto North Street by flash flooding the evening before. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Muddy, roiling water also washed down Ash Street, from the McGregor Heights. (Submitted photo)

The properties below Marquette's bench evacuation route were some of the hardest hit. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The Mississippi River wasn’t the only muddy, roiling body of water flowing through the area last week. Torrential rains the evening of Sept. 12—on the heals of two storms that days earlier had each dropped inches of precipitation—unleashed rivers of their own down several Marquette and McGregor streets, leaving behind rocks, tree branches and a layer of gooey mud. 

The hillsides bordering Highway 76 between Marquette and McGregor, as well as north of Marquette, didn’t fare any better. Mud slides shot down the banks, felling trees and littering the roadways with rocks that were reportedly as large as basketballs. 

Bloody Run County Park, near Marquette, was closed, as were many trails and campgrounds at Yellow River State Forest.

In all, a recorded 7.57 inches of rain fell in nearby Prairie du Chien from Sept. 7-13.

In McGregor, water rushed down Ash Street from the McGregor Heights, while another stream raged from Center Street. They converged onto Main Street, where, at one point, water reached up to the curb and the bottoms of parked vehicles. Mayor Lyle Troester reported little damage from the storm, just a lot of water and debris. 

“Some places experienced water in their basements that haven’t had water before,” he said. Problems were worst on Main and Ann streets.

The precipitation also put a strain on the city’s already-over-taxed sanitary sewer system. 

“The ground water is seeping into the system, and it can’t keep up,” Troester explained.

The retention dams that surround the city will need attention too, he noted.

There was a similar scene in Marquette Thursday night, as flooding deposited piles of rocks onto North Street, downtown. The city’s Twin Bluffs neighborhood, on Pleasant Ridge Road, was also underwater. On the bench, water and debris from the evacuation route washed over properties near its base.

“There was a lot of rocks and sticks, and the people on Pleasant Ridge got water in their homes again, but there wasn’t really any more damage than just clean up,” said Marquette’s mayor, Steve Weipert. “It came up quick, but then half an hour later, it was gone.”

After it was over, Troester and Weipert admitted their communities looked much better than anticipated. They said it was thanks, in large part, to the city crews, who were out right away that night—then again Friday morning—to tackle the mess.

In Marquette, Weipert said local resident Chopper Thornton quickly arrived on scene to clear the drainage system on Pleasant Ridge Road, in the hopes of averting further flooding. 

“You’re thankful for people like that,” he said. “The citizens have also been good.”

Throughout Friday, residents of both towns could be found in their yards and driveways, washing away mud, removing debris and righting their landscaping.

“It just takes time to get everything cleaned up,” Weipert acknowledged.

For more photos and videos of the flooding, visit the North Iowa Times Facebook page.

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