‘The cleanup process begins’

River levels drop in Lehigh; evacuated residents get OK to go home

-Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Peter Kaspari Water over Pleasant Street in Lehigh made the road impassable Sunday. But on Monday, residents who were evacuated were allowed to return to their homes as the river receded several feet.

LEHIGH — A day after some Lehigh residents were told to evacuate due to concerns over flooding, they have been told they can return to their homes.

On Sunday, an ice jam in Humboldt prompted the evacuation notice for fears it was going to cause increased flooding in the Des Moines River in Lehigh. The town has already experienced flooding.

Homes on the east side of the river and north of Riverside Tavern, located at 450 E. Main St., were evacuated.

But on Monday, Dylan Hagen, Webster County Emergency Management coordinator, said water levels had dropped an estimated 5 or 6 feet.

“The water level seems to be pretty steady right now,” Hagen said. “Folks can go back to their houses, and some of the roads are passable, but they are covered and there is still some debris throughout town.”

The ice jam in Humboldt that has officials concerned ended up not being as big of a problem as some had feared.

Hagen said a few chunks of ice could be seen in the river, but most of the ice ended up on the banks.

“I don’t think we have any more concerns about river flooding,” Hagen said Monday.

However, he did say that Samson Avenue “will probably remain closed for awhile as repairs are going to be needed.”

Some homeowners in town are checking for damage and starting the cleanup process.

Right now, Hagen said, the only danger authorities anticipate has to do with homes that are flooded.

“Just what’s left of any debris or anything like that,” he said. “And water still in basements could cause some health concerns as the water sticks around.”

For anyone who needs assistance, Hagen said there is help available.

The Individual Assistance Program Grant is one source. It provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or a maximum annual income of $41,560 for a family of three.

These grants are available for home or car repairs, food or clothing replacement and temporary housing expenses.

Those seeking reimbursements for storm recovery have to provide original receipts.

Grant applications can be found online at dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs.

Applications have 45 days from the date of the disaster proclamation to submit a claim. The deadline is April 29.

There are also donations being accepted locally.

“They do have a donation site set up at City Hall right now for some cleanup items to help people get their houses cleaned up,” Hagen said.

For now, Hagen said Lehigh residents are taking it one day at a time.

“Each house is going to clean up at different paces,” he said. “Some are going to go through stuff, some are going to throw it all away. The cleanup process begins.”