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Hornick plans to begin construction on berm in the spring

Katie Peikes
IPR file
Years after the town was flooded, the town of Hornick makes progress in its plan to build a berm.

A small town in western Iowa is steadily making progress in building a protective flood barrier after experiencing major flooding in March of 2019.

The town of Hornick hopes to finalize its construction plans for a berm to protect the town against future floods this month. Mayor Scott Mitchell said the town is on track to begin construction next spring.

“For me, it truly isn’t going to sink in until we start moving dirt,” Mitchell said. “Then I can say we’re to that point where we know it’s going to be built and we’ve climbed all the hills and have made it through all the things that have made it difficult along the way.”

Katie Peikes
IPR file
Mayor Scott Mitchell is anxious to begin "moving dirt" on the town's flood protection project.

Almost three years have passed since water from the West Fork of the Little Sioux River overtopped the Woodbury County town’s levee, flooding the city. Mitchell said he can still see the flood’s damaging impact years later.

“Something you learn during a disaster is that it takes a lot of time to recover from it,” Mitchell said. “You see a lot of the community slowly getting back to normal, like prior to the flood, but it takes a long time because of the financial hit the residents and the community takes.”

Community leaders in Hornick first began discussing the construction of a berm after flooding in 1996. But, it wasn’t until the town of a little over 200 people was awarded nearly $2.1 million in funding from the 2019 Flood Recovery Act that the project was made possible.

The berm will be 3 feet above the town’s 500-year flood elevation. Mitchell said he’s been anxious to see the construction begin.

“We’re three years out from ‘19, but there’s a lot of things that have to get done to get to this point,” he said.

Something you learn during a disaster is that it takes a lot of time to recover from it
Hornick Mayor Scott Mitchell

Construction of the berm will likely be completed by the fall of next year — a day Mitchell says the community is looking forward to.

“It will be a very large accomplishment, that I can say the whole community was involved with, to be able to protect our little small town from not having a flood that happened in ‘19 to happen again,” Mitchell said. “It’s protecting it for the future.”

Kendall was Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA until Jan. 20, 2023.