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Southeast Iowa Communities Look Back on 10th Anniversary of Flood

Posted: Thursday, June 14th, 2018 at 6:24 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

Oakville in July 2008.

Ten years ago this week floods impacted eastern Iowa communities, damaging homes, buildings, and crops, and forcing many to evacuate their residences.

Only the roofs of the buildings at the Louisa County Fairgrounds in Columbus Junction could be seen during the flood, according to fair board member and Columbus Junction Mayor Mark Huston. He comments on the improvements that have been made to the fairgrounds in the last decade, “Well, over the last 10 years we’ve tried to improve the drainage down there. The city also applied for, and we were lucky enough to receive, a grant to raise the levy. Part of the levy is on the north side of Highway 92 and protects those businesses and then continues down across the fairgrounds, so now we’ve got a levy and we’ve used it a couple times. The water has gotten high enough that the old levy it would have gone over, but this levy is high enough that it hasn’t, and I hope it never does.”

The English River flooded the property of Riverside farmer Steve Prybil, who enrolled portions of his land into the Conservation Reserve Program, which gives a yearly payment to farmers who agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production.

Another community greatly impacted was the City of Oakville. Mayor Benita Grooms reflects on how Oakville is doing 10 years after the flood, “In some respects better, but we lost so much. We lost half of our population, so that has hurt us and housing has hurt us, and a few businesses that were just minor businesses but still they were here. Our lack of revenue is what we have to climb over and try to adjust everything because of that, but we are slowly advancing, TriOak Foods has been a blessing and so are the people that stayed.”

As of the 2000 census, there were 439 residents in Oakville, and in the 2010 census it dropped to 173. Grooms mentions there are former residents of Oakville who still take part in community organizations and churches, and new businesses did open after the flood, such as The Piggy Bank Cafe. The National Weather Service Quad Cities Office projects through August this year there is less than a 50% chance of flooding in rivers south of Interstate 80 in eastern Iowa.