Seeing video and aerial photographs of the flooding in Pacific Junction, Iowa, was tough for Kim Beesley.
The city about 10 miles from her hometown of Glenwood has been inundated with floodwaters.
A ground-view video of people in an airboat going through floodwaters in the community was even harder to see.
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“From up high, everything is different. You see it differently,” said Beesley, who has lived in Medora since May 2018. “But when they video it from a boat and they go around and they are showing you everything, it’s unreal. I don’t know how many times I’ve cried because of this already because there’s not a thing I can do from here.”
Other photos show floodwaters up to the roofs of homes and businesses and interstates and major highways closed because of water over the roadway.
Beesley also has read stories about people having to evacuate from their homes, leaving their belongings, farmland and livestock behind.
She has been in touch with family and friends affected by the flooding in Iowa and Nebraska, and she said it’s difficult not being able to be there for them.
That led to her creating an online fundraiser through gofundme.com. Her goal is $15,000.
“I no longer live in the area but would like to help by starting this page so that families can benefit from the funds raised,” she wrote on the Midwest Flood Relief page. “Schoolchildren have also been affected. They lost a majority of their school supplies. If you can find it in your heart, please, please make donations for flood relief. These donations will all go to flood relief in the Midwest.”
Beesley lived in Glenwood, which is in southwestern Iowa, until 2004 when she moved about 70 miles west to Syracuse, Nebraska. She has children, siblings and her mother still living in those areas.
Fortunately, her mother and brother live high enough in Glenwood that their homes weren’t flooded. The flooding, however, has made it difficult for people to get in and out of the city.
“Because they couldn’t get out of Glenwood because the roads were closed, they’ve lost their jobs,” Beesley said of area residents. “I know there are some companies that I saw that are still paying their employees even though they are displaced.”
Also, residents have had to boil water because the water treatment plant was shut down and E. coli is in the water.
“Other areas have been busing or (bringing) semis full of water,” Beesley said. “Everybody has been really super. It’s amazing what you see when something horrible like this happens.”
Beesley said she realized how bad the flooding was when she saw major roads were closed.
A bridge that goes from Nebraska City, Nebraska, to Percival and Hamburg, Iowa, is completely separated, and a highway crossing into Iowa was covered in floodwaters.
“This is a low area anyway, so it gets flooding almost every year,” she said of Iowa Highway 2. “In 2011, it flooded similar, but Hamburg and the residents there went and helped fill sandbags for a couple of days, and they built their own levee around the town. The Army Corps of Engineers made them take it down, so they had no protection this time. They didn’t have enough time to do anything.”
So what caused the flooding? Snowmelt from earlier this month followed by heavy rains.
“The ground was still frozen, so the water couldn’t be absorbed,” Beesley said. “On one side of Nebraska, there was a blizzard. Then there was a flood. Then it moved all the way to the other (side of the state).”
The flooding affected Iowa and Missouri, too. President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for nearly 60 counties in Iowa, where businesses, homes and levees have been severely impacted by flooding, including along the Missouri River.
The flooding has been blamed for three deaths and caused at least $3 billion in damage.
“A few of my friends in Pacific Junction had to leave, so they put everything in their car, put their pets in their car and they left, and they are staying with a friend,” Beesley said. “I have a friend in Hamburg, he and his wife left. They didn’t want to, but this year was not like 2011. This year was worse.”
Animals have been impacted, too.
“There was an animal rescue in Pacific Junction for 20-some dogs left in a house, and they went and rescued them,” Beesley said. “People are looking for places for cattle and horses. They lost so many heads of cattle in western Nebraska from the blizzard, and then (now the flooding).”
Through all of the devastation, Beesley said she is comforted to know people from surrounding communities are helping those impacted.
“Our communities have really stepped up,” she said. “I know there was a girl who lives in Syracuse who started on her own a drive for the flood victims. It is huge now. She has gotten so much stuff and is able to take it to Fremont.”
Seymour resident Lance Hensen can attest to people helping people. He said he has family living in Shenandoah, Iowa, which is 30 miles from Hamburg that’s currently underwater.
“Brother and his wife have spent hours volunteering with relief activities,” he said. “Totally devastating for the town of Hamburg, but proud to know neighbors are helping neighbors.”
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To contribute to Kim Beesley’s Midwest Flood Relief fundraiser, visit gofundme.com/9nt8j9-midwest-flood-relief.