Friday marks the 5 year anniversary of the record breaking flooding that washed through our entire region, hitting Oakville, Iowa the hardest.
Residents of Oakville say it is a date they will never forget.
“It became evident that we weren’t going to be able to hold the levee,” Bob Siegle remembers.
The flooding Iowa river had become too much and broke the levee west of town. It was devastation for the community of 500. Somehow, a lot of residents stayed positive.
“You can deal with what God does, but what’s hard is what people do,” Bob reflects. “This wasn’t something that people did so we just intended to keep going.”
Throughout the Oakville, you can still see water lines on the side of buildings from that day. Siegle and his friends say they can be referred to as battle scars.
Cosmetologist Dorothy Malcolm had spent 40 years in Oakville prior to that day, but now lives in Wapello.
“My house I loved,” Dorothy reflects. “But to go back there, no we couldn’t go back there.”
Dorothy says the move was much harder on her husband. She says he continued to pay his utilities on the home for a year after the flood. She says her work helped her cope.
“I could come to work and talk about things and air them out,” She says. “Sometimes that is your best therapy.”
Five years into the rebuild, there are signs of progress in Oakville. The locals now have a place to sit and share again. The Piggy Bank Cafe, which was the Old Farmer’s Bank, was cleaned up by volunteers from all over the nation and has been turned into a restaurant.
Bob Siegle tells us more than half of the residents moved away after the flood and decided not to return.