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New Hartford City Officials Hope for Changes as City Floods Again

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NEW HARTFORD, Iowa - Butler County emergency management officials said that the city-wide evacuation of New Hartford will stay in place through the night.

The mayor said about a quarter of the small Butler County town was under water.

More than 7 inches of rain has fallen in the Beaver Creek water basin in the past few days, causing the creek to rise to near historic levels. The creek crested at 15.15' Tuesday morning, just short of the 15.7' record set in June of 2008.

Authorities believe water seeped into as many as 30 homes and businesses, but they'll know more in the morning when they can assess the damage.

Stacie and Reece Ragsdale left town when emergency officials gave word of the evacuation. Stacie said when she came back after work to see that things didn't look as bad as she expected. The couple had a few inches of water in the garage and some in the basement. They didn't waste any time getting to work.

It's a sight many in town are getting used to. "Normal New Hartford flood, you would say," Ragsdale said.

Firefighters know this fight all too well. They said this is the third time Beaver Creek has flooded the area in the past few weeks.

"Of course we set up probably 9,000 sand bags," said New Harford Fire Chief Brad Schipper. "We just had the flood in May and we hadn't had them all picked up yet. So we just added to those and it kind of worked out."

The city built up the berm around the city to protect everything after the 2008 flood. Mayor John Anderson said the berm is working, but the water comes flowing in where that final piece of the berm has not been raised.

"It's got to be disheartening for a lot of people just to pick everything up every three weeks and go through this," said Mayor Anderson. "But we're hoping that we can get some help and move forward and get some of these problems so they don't occur."

"It gets frustrating because you know what you need to do, but if the funding isn't there, you can't do it," said Chief Schipper.

They're looking towards making changes in the future, but for now the city will keep battling flood waters.

"From my perspective, we've won three times," said Mayor Anderson. "Even though it doesn't look like it, I think we're winning."

Emergency management officials are asking people not to drive through the city to do any sightseeing or looking around until everything gets cleaned up. They expect to allow residents to come home to stay, sometime Wednesday morning.

The Red Cross opened a shelter in Shell Rock to handle those evacuated from the flash flooding in New Hartford. But so far, only a handful of the 560 people in New Hartford have sought shelter assistance.

Red Cross workers said this isn't surprising. In similar situations, people tend to find a place to stay with friends or relatives closer to their properties in jeopardy.

Shell Rock is located about 15-20 miles from New Hartford. The shelter has capacity for more than 400 people and plenty of cots and food, if needed.

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