Iowa Town Struggles to Stay Afloat Amid Floods Residents of Oakville, Iowa are working hard to try to save their city from flooding. A surge of Mississippi River water continues rolling south. It threatens to swallow homes, businesses and farmland. Farms are currently under 25 feet of water.
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Iowa Town Struggles to Stay Afloat Amid Floods

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Iowa Town Struggles to Stay Afloat Amid Floods

Iowa Town Struggles to Stay Afloat Amid Floods

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

There's a silver lining, albeit a soggy silver lining, amid all this flooding. Frank Morris, of member station KCUR visited the town of Oakville, Iowa, and has this report.

FRANK MORRIS: You can't drive to Oakville these days. The road ends three miles from town at the edge of what's now a huge lake. Alan Elton(ph) just came back with his eight dogs and cats, plus one extra cat. They came, like everything else out of Oakville now, by boat. Four feet of water swirls through his house.

Mr. ALAN ELTON: The dogs were on the second floor. The cats were on the first floor, and they were up on a bookshelf and on the kitchen counter. They were a little scared, but they were happy to see me.

MORRIS: Others ferry computer equipment, keepsakes, even flowers out of the town. Dwight Strasheim(ph) owns more than 400 acres and has lived here most of his life. He says the trickle of stuff coming out today is nothing compared to last week. When the rivers began to rise, Strasheim says people from 100 miles around drove in to truck furniture, thousands of tons of grain, and maybe 30,000 hogs to safety. He says the normally peaceful roads looked like crazy freeways.

Mr. DWIGHT STRASHEIM (Resident, Oakville, Iowa): Everything on four wheels that would move was moving on those roads, and you just had to be careful you didn't get run over. Not one person got run over. There weren't any accidents that I know of, but you cannot imagine the exodus that took place in three days. And it was quite a sight.

MORRIS: Still, no one could take the valuable corn and soybean plants from the fields. Persistent rain has stunted the crop in parts of Iowa. But before the flood, plants here were bright green and tall, and farmers could have anticipated reaping record prices. Now, Strasheim looks out at a much less hopeful scene.

Mr. STRASHEIM: We are looking at about 25 feet of water. And all you see is rooftops of buildings sticking out of the water as far as the eye can see. You see tanks floating down. I've seen buildings floating down, small storage sheds. LP tanks, gas tanks, diesel tanks.

MORRIS: At a nearby church, National Guard troops join little girls, elderly men, and dozens of others in feverishly filling sandbags and loading them onto trucks, in hopes of keeping fields still protected by levees from the filthy, rising water. The hard work has been going on non-stop for days now. And though tensions are high in this devastated community, there are few complaints. Alan Elton who moved here a few years ago from Minneapolis is impressed.

Mr. ELTON: It's overwhelming. I'm not used to the come-togetherness of people. Well, I've never been through a flood like this. But it's unbelievable the amount of care and concern that people have in this area for one another.

MORRIS: Elton, his wife, two kids, and two-week-old baby face huge financial losses and months of uncertainty. But Elton, at least, is already making plans. He says he and his family will probably stay, clean up, and make the best of it. For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris, near Oakville, Iowa.

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