Rural Iowa

Lindsey Moon / IPR File

Iowa now has over 120 confirmed cases of COVID-19 spread across more than two dozen counties with numbers increasing every day, and across the state, hospitals are preparing for a possible influx of patients.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

A year ago, water from the West Fork of the Little Sioux River overtopped a levee and flooded the western Iowa town of Hornick. The town is still recovering, and waiting for future flood mitigation.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

It’s been a year since massive flooding along the Missouri River devastated western Iowa communities. Many are still trying to recover. And forecasters say there's a good likelihood of minor to moderate flooding again this year.

Natalie Krebs / IPR

In some parts of Iowa when you call 911, there’s no guarantee that an ambulance will be available, and this is a big problem in rural areas, where volunteers are scarce. That’s because emergency medical services are not considered essential, like fire or police.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

Low-income communities hit hard by natural disasters recover more slowly than wealthier communities do, according to a new report from the Iowa Policy Project.

Katie Peikes / IPR

Students from western Iowa’s Denison High School walked out of their classes in protest Tuesday morning, calling for an outside investigation into racism and diversity issues in the school. This comes after Denison Community Schools placed a teacher on leave for using a racial slur in class discussions last week. 

Douglas Palmer/Flickr /

This story contains language that may be offensive.

A powerful businessman in an eastern Iowa community called on three female councilmembers to resign in an expletive-filled rant. But the officials are holding on to their posts. 

Amy Mayer / IPR

Travel back just two short months to a quintessential scene: it’s a farm so close to suburban sprawl you can practically see the retail developments from the gravel road. A large American flag hangs from the door of a big, white barn. Classic red tractors surround an area filled with folding chairs as music is piped in and volunteers in Amy for America T-shirts work the crowd with clipboards in hand.

This is LaVon and Craig Griffieon’s family farm in Ankeny and on this day it’s the site of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s campaign event announcing her proposals for agriculture.

Katie Peikes / IPR

A community in western Iowa is using state flood recovery money to build a berm around town in hopes it will protect people from future flooding. Officials have put their original plan for a protective trail on hold for now.

Census workers in Iowa will have a photo ID badge, said spokesperson Sam Fettig. Residents can also verify that a person works with the Census by calling the agency's Chicago office at 1-855-579-7998.
U.S. Census Bureau

Although the 2020 Census is months away, census workers are getting a head start by travelling the state to update the Census Bureau’s address list. Workers in Iowa and across the country are going to hundreds of neighborhoods looking for new housing developments and apartment buildings, or old ones that may have been torn down.

John Pemble / IPR

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s newest plan released Friday morning aims to expand access to healthcare in rural areas. Buttigieg is the latest in a string of Democratic presidential candidates to release policy proposals this week meant to improve rural life.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

Southwest Iowa communities are still struggling to recover from this spring’s flooding.

Kate Payne/IPR file

Organizers in the southeast Iowa community of Burlington don’t anticipate any flooding issues to impact the city’s RAGBRAI plans. That’s after the Mississippi swamped parts of the town's downtown earlier this year

Roey Ahram/Flickr Creative Commons

Iowa 1st District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is sponsoring legislation aimed at increasing pay for rural doctors serving Medicare patients. Advocates say a federal government policy of reimbursing doctors at lower rates in smaller and more remote communities is contributing to provider shortages. 


A new analysis shows Iowans may face higher risks of certain health issues due to nitrate pollution in drinking water. Across the country, thousands of cases of certain cancers and birth defects may be linked to the contaminant, researchers found.

Rural communities are some of the most politically disenfranchised when it comes to climate policy, and last year’s National Climate Change Report showed they’re also among the most at risk when it comes to the effect of climate change. This could mean stronger storms, more intense droughts and earlier freezes.

Kate Payne/IPR

An eastern Iowa conservation group is taking an unconventional approach to tracking rare turtles on its land. Iowa Public Radio tagged along with a man who’s trained his hunting dogs to find the reptiles for researchers. Counting the creatures will help conservationists manage the land better.


Iowa averages around seven bicycle crash fatalities per year. Tragically, three cyclists have lost their lives in the past two weeks alone. What can we do as drivers and cyclists to prevent these tragedies, and what can Iowa lawmakers do to protect the Iowans we share our roads with?

Kate Payne / IPR

One year ago this week, immigration officials detained 32 workers at a concrete plant in Mount Pleasant. Twelve months later, most of the men’s legal cases are still pending. Eight of the men have deported, and the rest have been released on bond and are back living with their families in Mount Pleasant. While a handful have received work permits, most can’t work, and are still waiting for immigration hearings.


Kate Payne / IPR

A small town mayor in eastern Iowa is facing some resistance to his plan to restructure his local government. The proposal is meant to redistribute the responsibilities of managing the city in order to help maintain and grow the community in the long-term, but it’s not clear the political will is there.

How Small Town Business Owners In One Iowa Town Are Banding Together

Apr 25, 2019
Emily Carey/IowaWatch

A small group of businesses in one southern Iowa town has found a way to stay open by banding together to attract spending customers to town, rather than compete against each other.

“Why not Humeston?” Leigh Ann Coffey, owner of Sweet Southern Sass, said when asked why business owners choose to open a business in a small town.

Iowa’s Small Towns Struggle To Gain Traction And Grow

Apr 25, 2019
Emily Carey/IowaWatch

The town of Humeston, Iowa, straddles Highway 65 in the northwestern corner of Wayne County, less than a 30-minute drive from the Missouri border. Its population peaked in the 1920s at 1,214 people.

Today, the southern Iowa town has only 494 people.

“A lot of kids, when they graduate, they want to get out and see the world,” David Dotts, of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors, said. It’s one of the many explanations for the population loss.

Wikimedia Commons /,_Iowa#/media/File:Lone_Tree,_Iowa.JPG

The mayor of a small city in eastern Iowa wants to do away with his own position as it exists now. The elected leader of Lone Tree wants the community to hire a city manager, and let the council choose a mayor.

Andrew Seaman via flickr creative commons /

A new childcare center opening in Keokuk this week will eventually offer space to 110 children. Advocates say the program is a needed step in addressing what they call a chronic shortage


The city of Jesup's only grocery store is set to close next month, leaving more than 2,700 people without a primary resource for fresh food in their community. 

Kate Payne / IPR

A new restaurant will help keep a historic building open in one Iowa small town, after a well-loved bistro closed down earlier this year.

Courtesy of Matt Schoville

Flooding in southwest Iowa has kept people out of their homes for two weeks now. Some families have been settling in at campground sites.

Hornick resident Dale Ronfeldt's garage in water in March 2019. A reporter joked with him that he had "lakefront property" and Ronfeldt joked, "you want to buy some?"
Katie Peikes / IPR file

As Iowans recover from devastating flooding along the Missouri River, Gov. Kim Reynolds is urging them to consider long-term sustainability. There are urgent short-term needs. But she says the state should work to ensure the same communities don’t flood year after year. 

Courtesy of Fremont County Emergency Management

Several southwest Iowa communities are still battling historic flooding and people remain displaced from their homes.

One of those people is Matt Schoville. He and his family have been out of their home just south of Percival for almost two weeks. They’ve been staying at a campground outside of Sidney. Schoville said it’s been devastating being displaced from their home.

Katie Peikes / IPR

People in several western Iowa communities are still waiting for waters to recede so they can go back to their homes, after the swollen Missouri River and its tributaries caused widespread, major flooding this month. 

In other parts of the region, people are already back, and they’re beginning the long process of assessing the damages and cleaning up their houses. The 200-or so people who live in Hornick in Woodbury County, have been back in their community for over a week.