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Floods Wash Away Iowa's Lake Delhi

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Floods Wash Away Iowa's Lake Delhi

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Floods Wash Away Iowa's Lake Delhi

Floods Wash Away Iowa's Lake Delhi

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Heavy rainfall in Iowa this weekend caused the water level of Lake Delhi to rise and subsequently break the dam that created the lake. Now, the lake has drained, leaving behind millions of dollars in damage, and homes that can no longer be called "lakefront." Robert Siegel talks to Jim Kouba, a dentist who owns a vacation home on what was the bank of Lake Delhi.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Some owners of lakefront homes in Iowa today find themselves with homes but no lake. Torrential rains over the weekend knocked out the dam that was built to create Lake Delhi in the 1920s. And without a dam, the lake drained, leaving behind a river and millions of dollars in damages.

Jim Kouba is a dentist whose family has a vacation home on what was formally the banks of Lake Delhi, and he joins us.

Dr. Kouba, welcome to the program. Sorry about what happened there.

JIM KOUBA: Thank you, Mr. Siegel.

SIEGEL: What does it look like now where your house is?

KOUBA: We are sitting, looking out over the river. We had a nice little sandy beach right on the lake. Now, it's probably 75, 80 yards to water. And the water level is probably 30 feet below us.

SIEGEL: Just a lot of lakebed now in front of you.

KOUBA: Yes.

SIEGEL: And, generally, if you look up and down the river, how much damage was there?

KOUBA: That's all you can see is boats precariously hanging on to very steep hillsides, trees, debris in the water, boat hoists that are collapsed. The - a lot of the boats are missing from the boat hoists because they floated away. There's a lot of debris going by. LP tanks that were hissing floating by, rooftops floating by, a lot of things you wouldn't want to be in the water with.

SIEGEL: You know, the hard thing to get one's mind around here is that when we think of torrential rains and floods, typically, we think of homes along the water suddenly being inundated and engulfed with water. This is the reverse. This is because of the dam giving way and the lake emptying out, the torrential rains and the floods result in homes being deprived of their water and looking at empty, dry lakebed in front of them.

KOUBA: Yeah. In some respects, we were flooded before the dam broke, and I think our flooding could have been worst had it not broke too. So I have to look at it two different directions.

SIEGEL: Well, can you speak of Lake Delhi at this point? It's not there anymore. Do you still - do you think of that body of water out there is Lake Delhi still?

KOUBA: Lake Delhi is still Lake Delhi because of the community here. It's a big place, but it's still a very personal place. So yes, I think it's still Lake Delhi.

SIEGEL: Well, Dr. Kouba, thank you very much for talking with us today.

KOUBA: Oh, thanks. Thanks for thinking of us.

SIEGEL: Jim Kouba, a dentist, whose vacation home was on the bank of what was Lake Delhi in Iowa.

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