A special meeting is planned tonight in Glenwood for residents in southwest Iowa to get more information about dealing with their flood-damaged homes.

Sheri Bowen, spokeswoman for Mills County, says the meeting’s purpose is to offer homeowners more details about various grant programs that are available for demolishing or buying out properties impacted by this spring’s flooding. Bowen says FEMA is offering one such program.

“It’s a chance for the county or the city to look at where houses are built where they shouldn’t be,” Bowen says. “It’s also an opportunity for homeowners who have been badly damaged here, and just have no way of rebuilding their properties, to have a buyout at pre-flood value.”

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management officials will be on hand to review the program and answer questions, and FEMA representatives will discuss individual assistance programs and direct housing. Bowen says it’s still not known how many properties in the county were damaged or destroyed by flooding.

“The county has a program in place where an inspector goes out when folks can return to their properties and assesses that property for structural safety and for their ability to get their power and their gas turned back on,” Bowen says. “So, in the unincorporated areas, I think we have a better look of what the houses do look like.”

Bowen says a large number of homes in Pacific Junction suffered significant damage in the flooding. “In the city of Pacific Junction, they have had a delay in their structural inspections,” Bowen says. “Those won’t be happening for another week or week-and-a-half. So, there’s no firm number there either. But, we do know that a large number had water to the eaves of their first level, so they sustained major damage for an extended period of time.”

Bowen says Iowa Department of Transportation crews were in the community last week to haul off massive piles of flood-related debris outside homes, though she says more work remains. “We have a number of properties that have not yet been mucked out, or cleaned out, due to folks being unsure of what their next steps are and availability of volunteer organizations,” Bowen says. “Will those houses be cleaned out? Are they appropriate to be cleaned out? That still remains to be seen by inspection happening, hopefully in the near future.”

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Glenwood High School Auditorium.

(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)