500 Pitch in to help in flood relief

Posted June 26, 2014 at 5:00 am

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By Steve Peterson

An all-afternoon and evening sandbag operation was called on to handle the flooding in the “Frog Pond” area and in and around Carr’s Landing on June 17 in Hawarden.

Longtime residents of the area off of Iowa Highway 10 heading into South Dakota, known locally as the “Frog Pond” stated that this was the worst water level that they had seen.

Elsewhere, vehicles at businesses near Carr’s Landing were partially submerged, buildings impacted by water and a deer had to free itself and scurry to safety.

In Chatsworth, Sioux County’s 500th Street was closed at Highway 12 and the gravel pit shared with Sioux County was flooded with water rushing downstream Wednesday.

Last Tuesday, at the former Hawarden Public Works site, about 500 individuals, businesses donating vehicles and personnel all gathered to man some 250,000 sandbags given by Department of Homeland Security as well as to other impacted counties.

Groups included the Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn softball team whose coach said that the team was more than willing to help, finding out as it left Sanborn. The game with West Sioux was postponed. Groups from Sheldon, Sioux City, Sioux Center areas. Officials from Sioux County Emergency Management and Sioux County Sheriff’s deputies helped many others.

“It went very smoothly,” said Hawarden Mayor Ric Porter.

Officials gathered at 1 p.m., June 17 as people were offering to help and decided on the operation’s details.

“It was fantastic,” said Hawarden Administrator Gary Tucker of the city cooperation. “We were very fortunate compared to some other towns.”

Hawarden offered to help other impacted cities such as Akron, Rock Valley and Rock Rapids cope with the rising Big Sioux and Rock rivers. Governor Terry Branstad had declared Sioux and Plymouth counties to be disaster areas. Sioux County got 250,000 sandbags and Plymouth County got 20,000.

“The Governor’s proclamation allows state resources to be utilized for, respond to and recover from the effects of storms and flooding. These resources may be used for flood protection or the removal of debris on publicly-owned or privately-owned land that may threaten public health and safety,” stated a press release June 17. State Emergency Operations Center opened, and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Governor’s Office continued to closely monitor the situation.

Dickson County sent sandbags to Hawarden.

Sandbags were set overnight at Hawarden’s spec building.

“We hope to find out soon after the water recedes,” said Tucker of any state or federal assistance.

Tucker added that the city’s “dry creek” water retention system worked well during the flood event.

Buckets of clean-up supplies were available at city offices donated by Area United Methodist Churches.

“We put the word out about 1 p.m. if anyone could show up to help at 4 p.m., for sandbagging and we thank you for being a part of that. It was a wonderful community effort. The Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn softball team was in town, due to having a softball game that got cancelled. Their coach said, ‘we have the bus, we’ve got gas money, so let’s head over to Hawarden. They jumped off the bus, they helped for three hours, it was wonderful. The best part of the evening was when they got back on their bus, we gave them an applause and gave them some sodas for a nice ride home,” said Porter at a community event later in the week.

Streets impacted in Hawarden were all streets west of Highway 10 between 18th and 23rd Streets; 7th Street, between Avenue A & D; and 8th Street between Avenue A and B. All streets were open to the public as of 9 a.m., June 20.

West Sioux, community and HMS softball team’s efforts were thanked by West Sioux Grades 6-12 Principal Ryan Kramer at the June 20 school board meeting. West Sioux students also volunteered to sandbag in Akron.

“At the softball games in Hartley on June 21 we will be collecting for flood relief efforts in Hawarden instead of charging an entrance fee,” said Kramer before the Saturday make-up game.

“It was good to see how those activities bring our kids together to help their neighbors,” said Kramer.

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