View from the Luther student union.
View from the Luther student union.
A small dike that separates the Luther College campus from the Upper Iowa River was breached Monday morning, causing flooding at the Luther College Regents Center, according to Ann Highum, Luther vice president and dean for student life.

"We're so lucky it wasn't worse. When you see pictures of other places, we're really in pretty good shape," she said.

The Regents Center's north gym and racquetball courts sustained damage, and even after the water began subsiding Tuesday, it was still waist deep in the Regents Center parking lot.

To protect the Regents Center, the Luther faculty was called out Sunday for sandbagging. No one thought the water would get past the bags they placed that day, but by Monday, they were completely submerged, Highum said.

Monday, with the baseball and softball fields completely under water, sandbags were placed closer to the Regents center. In addition to faculty and staff, students at Luther for special summer programs and high school students from various athletic and Park-Rec programs helped in the effort.

"It was amazing. They were really into it. Canoes were used to transport the sandbags. Some people were out there in the waist deep water for hours," she said.

Highum said city crews were busy dumping sand at Luther and volunteers filled sandbags all day long. At one point, four large pumps were being used to get rid of the floodwater. The general contractor for Luther's science hall addition initiated the pumping process, Highum said.

A channel was opened between the baseball field and tennis courts to allow water to flow back into the Upper Iowa River. Public Information Director Jerry Johnson said the area can be "resealed" if the river begins to rise again.

"Otherwise, it's water that can't escape, which is not good for Luther's ground or the community," he said.

Repair of the dike depends on water levels, Highum said.

"It's a matter of whether we can work on it when it's that wet," she said.

Evacuees

Highum said about 60 residents evacuated from Decorah's west side neighborhood spent the day in air-conditioned Brandt Hall at Luther Monday.

Beds were prepared for them, but they were allowed to return to their homes after the Upper Iowa River began to drop Monday evening.

"People brought games and they played cards all day. There was a wonderful meal for everyone who worked or was here. Our residence life staff and food service did a terrific job. I can't say enough about the community spirit and all the people helping out. It was phenomenal," Highum said.