Clarksville, Iowa

A film crew from National Geographic has been in Iowa this week, capturing material for a documentary about devastating floods that hit parts of the state in 2008 and 2016.

Clarksville Mayor Val Swinton says the seven-person crew spent time in his town, located in Butler County. “It’s a documentary about the changes in the weather and so they wanted to know about the floods and how these two floods, that were so big and happened so close together, represented a change in our weather pattern,” Swinton said.

In September 2016, nearly 300 Clarksville residents were forced out their homes when torrential rains pushed the Shell Rock River over a temporary levee. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the 2008 flood that buried much of Eastern Iowa under water – including Clarksville.

“We just had a 500-year flood in 2016 and one in 2008, which for us, means the next 500-year flood might not be 500 years from now. We might have another one in the not too distant future,” Swinton said. “Our focus has been to prepare for that, to try to figure out what we can do to keep the Shell Rock River out of Clarksville the next time something like this happens.”

Clarksville has rebuilt and recovered from the 2016 flood, according to Swinton, but there are lingering effects on the town’s residents. “It was a pretty powerful event and so people now every time we get a forecast of heavy rain we wonder if maybe we’re going to get flooded again,” Swinton said. “It kind of puts everyone on edge a little bit.”

The National Geographic documentary featuring Clarksville and other Iowa cities is expected to be released this fall.

Reporting by Mark Freie, KLMJ, Hampton