Eastern Iowa city faces losing half of its population - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa city faces losing half of its population


An Eastern Iowa community faces losing half of its population in the wake of severe flooding.

It's been nearly three months since as many as 15 inches of rain fell on Dubuque County within a 24-hour period, causing flash flooding and devastating homes.

Valley Hill Trailer Park in the small city of Sageville, just north of Dubuque, suffered an inordinate amount of damage.

Dave Britton lives in the trailer park and recalls the night he and his mother escaped the rising floodwaters.

"Rescue workers came and got us in a rubber raft. It was the first time they ever had to do that," he said. "Our ducts were completely filled with mud and stuff. We had to clean them all out and then rinse them out with a bleach solution, since we can't afford to have them replaced."

Other residents of Valley Hill face similar mixtures of expensive home damage and ongoing problems with the trailers due to flooding.

"They had a taste of flooding previously, but this one was overwhelming," Sageville mayor Don Recker said Monday afternoon at the trailer park.

The park has a history of flooding.

Recker said city officials are seeking buyouts of this park from FEMA, meaning the land could never again be used for housing.

"We're definitely going to be impacted pretty harshly by that, because this had probably close to half our residents," he said.

Sageville has a population of about 160 people. Valley Hill Trailer Park, Recker said, houses about 80 people.

The trouble is, Recker said, those people can't move elsewhere in Sageville.

"A lot of our property's on the flood plain, so you can't build on it," and there just aren't any open buildings, he said.

With its current population, the city's annual budget now is about $27,500.

"We had a skinny budget before, and now it's going to be even skinnier," Recker said.

For many flood victims, however, the survival of Sageville is not their top concern.

"Hopefully, when the buyout happens, we're going to get a new place that doesn't involve flooding anymore," Britton said.

Recker said he wishes the residents, "good luck and hope that they find new accommodations that are better than what they had here."

City officials have been working with the East Central Intergovernmental Association to secure the FEMA buyout program.

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