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Dubuque's Closed Flood Gates Ruin Holiday Boating Plans

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - Boaters won’t be able to get in or out of Dubuque’s Ice Harbor this Memorial Day Weekend. The city will keep the flood gates closed as Mississippi River levels remain above flood stage.

Their first foot-steps along Dubuque’s Mississippi River Walk mark a milestone for tourists David and Jo Curtis.

“Iowa is the last of the 48 lower states that we’ve been to,” said David Curtis.

The couple from England wanted to celebrate their accomplishment with a river boat cruise along the Mississippi River.

But they’re out of luck. Both “The Spirit of Dubuque” and “The Miss Dubuque” are docked inside the Ice Harbor.

“Very disappointed,” said Curtis.

In order to protect the Port of Dubuque from flooding, the city closes the flood gates when the river stage is 16 feet, but predicted to crest at 18 feet.

Port of Dubuque Marina Manager Ben Alden said, “It’s disappointing but it’s something we can’t control.”

This would have been the first Memorial Day Weekend celebration since the city bought the marina less than a year ago.

Alden said, “We would have had boats coming in and out. We’d be having a bags tournament on the plaza. “

And while their holiday weekend plans are now a little more low-key, the Curtis’s are just happy to be in Iowa.

“We saved the best state until last,” said Curtis.

The city’s public works department says they use the Army Corps of Engineers guidelines to help them decide when to open and close these flood gates.

If the river level drops as predicted, the city says the gates could open by this coming Thursday.

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