Hornick Residents Return Home, Prepare To Rebuild After Devastating Flood

Mar 19, 2019

Residents were welcomed back to the western Iowa city of Hornick Monday morning, even as the city works to repair its sewer system.

Hornick Mayor Scott Mitchell said the city is hoping to have the system pumped out enough Tuesday morning so residents can go back to using their sinks, toilets and showers. 

“There’s so much water in the basements and stuff that our sewers are pulling a lot of that water down, so our sewer pumps can’t keep up,” Mitchell said. “Until we can get it back down to a manageable level where we wouldn’t chance to have any backups, then that’s when we can advise people they can use their sewer system again.”

As the city’s 200-plus people returned home Monday morning and waited for their power to be turned back on, they were asked to avoid using their toilets, sinks and showers to keep the system from backing up.

Mitchell said he had about 5 feet of water in his basement when he first got back into his home. Flooding took out his furnace, hot water heater and his washer and dryer.

"This is a small community, we're all a little family and we all kind of stick together. Anybody we would lose or could lose, it's a big hit to every one of us." -Hornick Mayor Scott Mitchell

Since they’ve returned home, people have already begun cleaning up their properties.

“They’re tearing out carpet and we have groups of volunteers in to help deal with the cleanup effort and start the process of rebuilding and trying to get back to a normal life,” Mitchell said.

On Sunday, Dale Ronfeldt, a Hornick resident, city councilman and volunteer firefighter, said he was worried people may not come back to rebuild and the already small rural town could lose population. Mayor Scott said he shares those concerns.

“I know there’s some residents that are questioning if they’re going to rebuild or not,” he said. “In turn, you can’t really blame them, but I hate to see it. This is a small community, we’re all a little family and we all kind of stick together. Anybody we would lose or could lose, it’s a big hit to every one of us.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds toured Hornick on Sunday, as she works to start the process for seeking aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help devastated areas recover from flooding. She said Sunday that the state has started communicating with a FEMA coordinator in order to start the process of assessing the damage as soon as possible and get a most accurate picture of it to qualify for federal relief.

In addition to Hornick, the governor has also toured a few other flooded western Iowa cities, including Glenwood and Missouri Valley. Reynolds has issued disaster proclamations for 41 counties, allowing residents in those areas to apply for grants to repair their damaged homes or cars and replace clothing. 

Vice President Mike Pence is visiting Nebraska today to survey the damage from flooding. Reynolds is expected to meet with him as well.