Grassley Laments Loss of West Ditch Levee As Hamburg Fights Flood

HAMBURG – Mayor Cathy Crain urged US Sen. Chuck Grassley last week to join in the fight to save the small town of Hamburg, Iowa, from devastating floods this spring and into the future.

Crain addressed a crowd of 130 people who had gathered at the Hamburg hospital to meet with Sen. Chuck Grassley as he toured flood damage.

She urged the senator and all Americans not to judge Hamburg by the flood, but by its people.

Crain: “We’re still fighting. We’re passionate to save our town though two-third is under water. We’re without a water plant, wells, lift station or city equipment.”

Of the town’s 560 homes, 167 were under water. 88 percent of businesses were flooded.

Fresh water has been trucked into town and a temporary well drilled to pressurize city water lines, but Crain said it could take until June to get drinking water restored.

Crain said the city’s future may depend on digging 19 miles of pipe for rural water.

Flooding contaminated natural gas lines and electricity has been shut off to 331 homes.

Mayor Crain said one of the city’s anchor industries, Manildra Milling, has established temporary operations in Shenandoah.

Crain told Sen.Grassley that the city fought to save the West Ditch Levee, which the US Army Corps of Engineers built up in 2011 to prevent floodwaters from entering Hamburg. After the flood, the State of Iowa offered $1 million if the town could raise an additional $5.6 million.

Crain said levee standards imposed by the corps made it impossible for Hamburg, despite a video of dancing townsfolk asking for national contributions.

Crain said the existing West Ditch levee puts Hamburg at flood risk.

Crain: “Now will only keep us dry if levees up and down the Missouri are repaired to handle the unrelenting releases at Gavins Point. The concept to us is easy. Build the levees to handle the staggering releases or repair them and lower the releases.”

Sen. Grassley said he understands the frustration working through the Corps of Engineers bureaucracy, said he continuously stresses the need to prioritize flood control and said the West Ditch Levee should have stayed.

Grassley: “You work hard in the last flood to get something up and running to protect the city a little bit. It wasn’t just taxpayer money that went into it. There was a lot of private effort that went into it . A lot of people donated a lot of stuff, so you’ve got a little more protection. Then people like your mayor and other people in this town say we ought to keep it. Well, then they put such conditions on it, for keeping it … If that had stayed there and it didn’t satisfy the corps 100 percent, the way they want to be satisfied,  it may have help you yet for this flood.”

She asked Sen. Grassley for $20 million for recovery and flood protection.