Businesses recover from fall flooding, mull disaster proclamation money

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NEW VIENNA, Iowa (KCRG) -- Recovering from fall flooding is not something Iowans are used to doing, but many are facing exactly that.

Governor Reynolds announced Wednesday financial relief to 19 counties affected affected, issuing a disaster proclamation. Those counties include Butler, Dubuque, Iowa, and Johnson. It would allow people to apply, and if they qualify, receive grants of up to $5,000.

On October 2, we visited 4J Supply in New Vienna , a business recognized around town as one of the hardest places hit. Following up Wednesday, there was little sign of a flood inside the store. Owner Mike Lehman simply described the flooding in and outside of the store as "a mess."

"We've never seen it come up that fast before," Lehman said.

Lehman said they were fortunate as there was not much damage inside the business, aside from some minor issues.

"We had some product damage- the stuff that we didn't have enough time to get up, we had to throw away; but it wasn't the amount we thought it was going to be," Lehman said.

Now the store has dry floors and products back on the shelves- shifting focus back on keeping items out for sale.

"We learned some things," Lehman said. "We know the next time this happens to start with the bottom shelves first."

A week ago, community members recalled how high the water levels were, higher than they were in July 2010. A marker placed on a nearby baseball field concession stand shows how high the water was at that time, but Lehman and others say it was much higher this time around.

Even with the damage to his business, Lehman said he is not interested in the disaster proclamation, despite Dubuque County being a part of that issue.

"I'm just not a guy that likes freebies," Lehman said. "That's meant for somebody that financially it's going to hurt them- like a house or something a little more devastating than what we had."

Lehman considers himself and the business fortunate, and says now they will prepare for the future- but hopefully not anytime soon.

"I don't think this is ever going to happen in my lifetime, I hope," Lehman said, "But we'll be ready for it if it comes that quick."