Buyout is bittersweet for Sans Souci Homeowners - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Buyout is bittersweet for Sans Souci Homeowners

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Several families are left with mixed feelings following Waterloo City Council members unanimous approval to purchase of their flood-damaged homes. All eight houses are on the Sans Souci Island. While the property owners are relieved to have this behind them, most did not want to leave their home, or the lives they loved.

"I just think the river draws people in a way no other place does," explained Katy Hackett.

She, along with all the families on Sans Souci knew the danger. But they couldn't resist life on the banks of the Cedar River.

"It was a whole different life," Hackett said, "our home was so small on San Souci. But it never mattered, because we were outside all the time."

When the rain came, and the river rose, Hackett's family was always prepared for a fight with the elements. They never planned to walk away.

"I think people just kind of gave up. They just wanted to move on with their lives. Because it turned into a deadlock, it got ugly," she said.

The Hackett's did move on, and into a new home. Meanwhile, their old one sits empty. Although it still requires upkeep - and that costs money.

"We have to keep insurance on the old house to protect ourselves," said Hackett.

Within a few weeks, the city is taking on that responsibility.

"We'll do everything we can to make sure they remain safe. And we'll get them demolished as soon as we can. But it's a lengthy process," admitted City Planner Aric Schroeder.

Hackett is looking forward to getting that weight off her shoulders. But she, and her husband, look back and see generations on the island washing down the river.

"He's angry. This was his lifestyle, and his fathers and his grandfathers and his great-grandfather's lifestyle. And he can't provide that.... for our kids anymore," Hackett added.

The Sans Souci Homeowners Association still owns the uninhabited part of the island. At this point, Schroeder does not know if they will attempt to purchase the rest of the land. Either way, Hackett vows to bring her children to the island every summer so they never forget the life her husband loved.

Historical preservation experts will need to evaluate the Sans Souci Island before the city can start demolition. Besides the history in the houses, there is a chance that the island is the site of a native-american burial ground.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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