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For the 2016 flooding, "Freeport was right at the heart of it"

Posted: Wed, Jul 17, 2019 9:18 AM

A crowd of around 60 Freeport residents Tuesday night got to hear first-hand the results of a Luther College study of the 2016 flooding in Freeport and in the Upper Iowa River Watershed.

Professors Rachel Brummel and Jon Jensen were joined with local governmental representatives in discussing what happened in 2016--and what can be done to keep it from happening again.  As Jensen put it, "How can we learn from past floods?"

The group of Luther researchers sent out more than 2,000 surveys to homes in the Upper Iowa River Watershed.  They also did a series of interviews with members of the Freeport community affected by the 2016 flood, with interviews running from 30 minutes to two hours.  "The emotional impact is what struck us first," Jensen told the crowd.

"We wanted to hear the stories," said Brummel, who said the group paid special attention to themes it heard over and over.  She said the group also prepared an estimate of the damage done by the 2016 flood and estimated the cost to be between $16 million to $21 million.

Winneshiek County Supervisor John Beard also spoke to the Freeport residents and told the audience "we need to catch every drop of rain possible."  That means building retention ponds in areas upstream from Freeport, ponds which would slow down the runoff from rainstorms.  Beard said money should be found from some source to pay for such projects, warning that flooding "might be the new normal."

A copy of the summary by researchers is linked in this story.