Southwest Iowa communities hit by this spring’s floods still face a critical housing shortage.
Mills County public information officer Sheri Bowen says the situation is “very challenging” in her county and widespread in the Missouri River basin. Bowen says officials are looking into options to address the dire need for post-flood housing.
“We have a housing coordinator who is working very hard to identify any housing opportunities locally,” Bowen says. “She is keeping a list of those and is actively beating the streets trying to locate additional housing in our community.”
While most residents impacted by the flooding have a temporary form of shelter, Bowen says they lack a long-term housing option — which will make a bad situation worse once the weather turns colder.
“Trailers through FEMA have been an option as well, but placement on those has been challenging,” Bowen says. “They’re placing as many as they could in the Glenwood community. The remainder right now are going to Red Oak and Shenandoah — which isn’t really palpable for folks who might work in the (Omaha) metro area.”
About 60 residents, including those living in Pacific Junction, have been identified for a home buyout program. Those residents need to fill out a “statement of voluntary transaction” form.
“The county is working with identifying the local planning agency that’s going to help them put in their application,” Bowen says. “One of the steps that it requires is for homeowners to sign off on a validation that they are interested. It gives us releases to do more assessments on their properties. So, this is a step in the application process.”
In most cases, Bowen says those properties are beyond repair.
“A lot of these properties are what I would call red-carded, which means that they really should not be rebuilt,” Bowen says. “That’s probably a large number of those properties. The remainder have been severely damaged. All of them had a minimum of ten feet of water in them for an extended period of time.”
Bowen says many residents are still having issues regarding rental assistance, and have been referred to case managers.
(By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)