Spring Flood of 1965

Around the time of the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak on April 11, 1965, the area along the Mississippi River had already began dealing with flooding issues.  Heavy rain fell across much of the northern Mississippi River region in early to mid April.  With the ground still being frozen, the rain and melted snow had nowhere to go except for nearby rivers.  Many record crests that were set in 1965 still stand to this day.

On April 7th, 1965, the Cedar Rapids Gazette stated that the state highway commission reported at least 17 highways were closed due to local flooding. About 400 families in Waterloo, Evansdale, and Cedar Falls had to leave their homes as the Cedar River crested. 

On Wednesday, April 14, 1965, the Times-Democrat newspaper reported the coming of a flood and approximately 2, 000 homes in the Quad City area were evacuated. That same day, 28 train cars loaded with sand from Muscatine arrived in Davenport to help with the flooding at the foot of Harrison Street. The next day the river exceeded 15 feet in Davenport and went above flood stage at noon. In Minnesota, the state braced for crests to reach 27 feet. 
Area newspapers began providing round the clock coverage of the flooding to keep people informed of the rising waters. While newspapers were providing coverage, local police went on 12 hour shifts to deal with the flooding issues.
A week later, on April 22nd, the flood crest at Davenport reached 21.5 feet. 

By April 25th, flooding had driven about 14,000 people from their homes, killed fourteen people, and caused about 125 million dollars of damage. On Wednesday April 28th, the levees in both Quincy, Il and Davenport, IA gave way after being pounded by flood waters.

 

Table 1: Flood stages and crests at various sites in the CWA in April 1965

Location

Flood Stage (feet)

Crest (feet)

Date of Crest

Rock Island, IL

15

22.48

April 28th

Dubuque, IA (Railroad Bridge)

17

26.81

April 26th

Bellevue, IA

17

23.51

April 26th

Fulton, IL

16

25.03

April 28th

Camanche, IA

17

24.65

April 28th

LeClaire, IA

11

17.75

April 28th

Illinois City, IL

15

23.27

April 28th

Muscatine, IA

16

24.81

April 29th

 

The following figures show the amount of precipitation that fell from March 1, 1965 to May 31, 1965 at three various sites.  The smooth red line is normal precipitation acculumations and the blue line shows the actual amount that fell during those months.   There were above normal precipitation amounts in April and early May.

Precipitation accumulations
Figure 1:  Precipitation amounts in inches at Burlington, IA from March 1 to May 31, 1965
 
Precipitation accumulations at Clinton, IA
Figure 2:  Precipitation amounts in inches at Clinton, IA from March 1 to May 31, 1965
 
Precipitation accumulations at Moline, IL
Figure 3:  Precipitation amounts in inches at Moline, IL from March 1 to May 31, 1965

 

 


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