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Hundreds Flee Homes as Heavy Rains Cause Flooding in Iowa

May 27, 1987|Associated Press

RED OAK, Iowa — Flooding forced the evacuation Tuesday of more than 1,000 people from several small towns in southwestern Iowa, including everyone from one town of 215 residents, after thunderstorms dumped up to seven inches of rain overnight.

Many people returned home as streams crested and began receding, but more rain was forecast.

Gov. Terry E. Branstad flew over the area and signed an order allowing the National Guard to be sent in if requested by local officials in Mills and Montgomery counties, said Ellen Gordon, director of the State Office of Disaster Services.

Red Oak had seven inches of rain by mid-morning and Malvern got 7.75 inches of rain overnight. In neighboring eastern Nebraska, 3.8 inches of rain fell at Weeping Water with 3.2 inches at Papillion, the National Weather Service said.

Roads and low-lying areas were flooded in Nebraska. Weeping Water Creek was five feet above flood stage in Cass County and some Weeping Water residents moved belongings to higher ground, rescue squad dispatcher Betty Harms said.

Motorists encountered fish swimming across U.S. 34, where the West Nishnabotna River had gone out of its banks near Hastings.

Many people said the flooding was the worst since a flood that derailed an Amtrak train and killed one passenger near Emerson in 1982.

In Red Oak, Montgomery County sheriff's officials reported that 1,000 people were evacuated because of flooding from the East Nishnabotna River and Red Oak Creek.

Gordon said at least 30 homes were evacuated in Malvern, at least six in Emerson and the entire town of Hastings, which has 215 residents, when the West Nishnabotna River and small streams rose over their banks.

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