Western Iowa towns that were hit hard by the 2019 floods are still working toward recovery.

Hamburg and Pacific Junction are awaiting levee certifications to move their communities forward.

As Hamburg puts the finishing touches on one levee, Mayor Cathy Crain is already focusing on how the small town can build another one. She says getting Hamburg out of the floodplain could transform its future.

Crain says, “If we could do that, you have entirely changed a town and a county because we would have far more possibilities.” Both towns hope they can use some of the state’s allotted infrastructure funding to assist in recovery efforts. Crain estimates her town still has over 70 projects to complete.

“What we’ve always said is we just wanted a fighting chance,” she says. “This is a fighting chance.” Pacific Junction Mayor Andy Young says the major obstacle is levee certification, something that needs to be complete before the town can use its emergency funding.

“Hopefully, we’ll be moving forward so we can get our town back or a resemblance of it,” Young says, “but, we’re making, we’re making it.” The towns are also looking at how they can protect their communities from future disaster, which means finding funding for more flood protection barriers.

(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)