Some flood victims in Butler County still waiting on FEMA help

Published: Nov. 20, 2017 at 6:10 PM CST
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It’s been over a year since water from the Shell Rock River flooded Clarksville, and parts of Butler County. There are still several people in the town living elsewhere because their homes were destroyed.

Eight homeowners in Clarksville are waiting on a buyout from FEMA. Once that happens, the city will demolish the homes, and turn them into open space.

Mayor Val Swinton says, "That's the rules, because of flood mitigations. If we tear down these houses because it's been flooded, we can't build on them anymore."

Swinton says they signed a contract with FEMA to start the buyout process in June. That included getting Clarksville designated as a flood hazard area, but a lot needs to be done before demolition.

Swinton explains, "We had to have people do the appraisal, so we knew how much they were worth. So now we're doing the asbestos inspection, and then when that's done we do the asbestos removal.”

Swinton says a lot of homeowners are not happy that the buyout process is taking so long. He explains, "They're having to pay an additional house payment where they're living now. or rent where they're living now. And they don't have the money coming in from the houses that are being destroyed to help them pay for that."

The city is also worried about future flooding. It's working with the Iowa Flood Center on new flood protection. The mayor says lowering some roads may be a possibility. He says, "It would cause the water to flow through there rather than come back into town, and it would channel it from south of town rather than north back into town.”