Curt Boyd walks past part of a home that was quickly removed from Percival, IA., before the floods came as residents that fled the Missouri River floods still seek shelter in campsites at Waubonsie State Park, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. The Boyd family has lived in the area since the 1870s and refuse to abandon their home despite the devastating flood. View a showcase of images in “Face of the Flood” at Omaha.com
For most the flood was an inconvenience. It rolled in slow and was easy to avoid.
For a few in Southwest Iowa it meant moving. Those that could afford an apartment grabbed the few available in the rural area, but many were forced to camp. And for more than four months they made their homes in city and state parks.
I visited families displaced by the floods on several occasions. You can imagine having to live in a trailer, your possessions out for all to see. Now try imagine living in that trailer with five or six of your relatives.
When I asked Michelle Moutray if she would come back after she spent four months living in Waubonsie State Park.”It will be a long time before I come back, if ever return,” she said with less than a week to go before her family of six left their campsite for good. She had enough of the solitude of the beautiful Loess Hills park and wanted her life back.
Gov. Terry Branstad passed a resolution that displaced flood victims could live in the park rent free. For many it was the only choice they had. Still paying a mortgage on the house in the flood plain, some losing their jobs in the flood — free was all they could afford. Some, like the Boyds, were able to return to their homes. Others can’t return, their homes in ruins.
Iowa residents finally qualified for individual assistance. It helps, but just enough to buy a little time. For many in the flood zone, it will be a long time before they recover from the disaster. But they had each other — in some cases a little to close for comfort. The closeness, the hugs and the smiles of those willing to welcome me and my camera into their makeshift homes was inspirational.