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Southwest Iowa Still Recovering From Spring Floods, Preparing For Next Year

Michael Leland
Floodwaters remained in the fields near railroad tracks outside Honey Creek in Pottawattamie County in mid-November.

Some southwest Iowa communities are still recovering from last year’s devastating spring flooding from the Missouri River, and they’re watching for warnings of possible flooding in 2020. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is emptying out flood control storage in the Upper Missouri River Basin reservoirs to lower the chances of flooding next spring. Nick Johnson with Mills County say residents are usually concerned about the possibility of flooding because the county borders the Missouri River, but even more so this year.

“That being said, still in recovery, I think it’s a little more towards the front of everyone’s mind and we’re going to be paying a little bit more attention to it then in year’s past,” he said.

Eight months after the Missouri River flooded parts of southwest Iowa, some rural areas are moving along with a lengthy process to remove some homes from the floodplain.

That includes unincorporated Mills County, where owners of 77 homes have expressed interest in a buyout. The county this week announced people can apply for mortgage assistance funds for those properties.

“It’s essentially going to help those individuals affected by the flood that have been displaced, those qualified property owners, get current, keep current on their mortgage payments to assist in the buyout process,” said Johnson, who added this will keep properties out of foreclosure. He says it could be another 6 to 9 months before properties are turned over to the county.

Pacific Junction and the city of Hamburg in Fremont County are also working over the next several months or so towards buyouts for homes damaged by last spring’s flooding.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.