Residents return home after flood waters recede

By: Kelly Sommariva

The devastation from this year's flooding can be seen up and down the Missouri River. With water levels dropping residents are finally getting a clearer picture of just how much was lost.

Three months after the flooding, most of the area is still underwater. Although you can begin to see the thousands of acres all but destroyed. “We're tired of waiting to see what's going to happen. Kinda don't really sink in until you go back and see what's left there,” said farmer, Clayton Lang.

Clayton Lang's family history is farming these lands just outside Hamburg, Iowa. After the levee broke near Percival, Iowa in late June. It took just ten hours for him to lose everything. “It's not going to be like it was I mean it was your home. You just, I don't know, it's just hard.”

We were there when that levee sent torrents of water from the mighty Missouri straight into Lang's 900 acre farmstead. Nearly three months later, the water is starting to recede around Hamburg's levees shedding light on only the beginnings of utter devastation.

“At times you think you can handle it, other times you gotta get clear away from it and think about something else instead of what's going on here.”

Lang's childhood home is now just post and beam. His mother's house, completely swept away. “You sit around in the evenings no place to go really. No place you can rest.” Clayton's house remains an island in these floodwaters. He's not sure if his farming days have come to and end.

“This year we did have insurance to take care of it but the next couple of years I don't know what we're going to run into. That'll determine if we keep farming or we quit, or whatever takes place.”

No matter what, the sun will always rise on Hamburg, but as it sets over the small Southwest Iowa town, it may be painting a different reality for the lifelong farmer. “It's always where I've grown up an stuff. I don't think I'm going to go back. It's just, everything's gone and it could happen again. It's just one of them things.”

Clayton expects it will be another three weeks before he can even drive to what's left of his house. These past few months he's been boating out there. His insurance adjusters won't be out until all the water has gone down either, so it's a very uncertain future for his family.