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1 year after flood, Hornick residents still amazed by Siouxland's generosity
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A deluge of aid and support

1 year after flood, Hornick residents still amazed by Siouxland's generosity

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Hornick flood, one year after

Hornick United Methodist Church pastor Catie Newman, left, talks with Deb and Bob Nelson about the March 14, 2019, flood in Hornick, Iowa. All three said donations and volunteer labor that poured in from the area after the flood played a big role in the recovery.

HORNICK, Iowa -- A year ago right now, Hornick residents could easily have been overwhelmed.

The 250 residents had been evacuated after days of heavy rains, plus melting snow, poured over levees on the West Fork of the Little Sioux River and flooded the town.

All that excess water, plus groundwater and water from backed-up sewers, filled many basements, ruining furnaces and other appliances, damaging and destroying belongings they had stored there.

Allowed to return to their homes a few days later, they found all that damage waiting for them to be cleaned up.

Again, they easily could have been overwhelmed.

But more overwhelming was the response from friends, relatives and strangers who came to town, put on their boots, rolled up their sleeves and began helping clean up the mess.

"Overwhelming and amazing. I don't know a better way to put it," Hornick Mayor Scott Mitchell said. "It was overwhelming and amazing to see what people can do and what they can bring."

Hornick flood, one year after

Hornick residents Deb and Bob Nelson talk about how the March 14, 2019,  flood affected them and how the overwhelming response from volunteers helped residents of the town recover.

Hornick residents no doubt will remember the flood and how it affected their families.

Perhaps a more lasting legacy of the event, however, is how this small town, along with hundreds of volunteers, pulled together to minimize the disruption in its residents' lives.

"It was the people and our faith. The number of people who brought something or came," the Rev. Catie Newman, pastor of Hornick United Methodist Church, said in describing how the town's residents were able to overcome the adversity.

Almost immediately, aid poured into town.

Volunteers arrived with mops, shovels, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, dehumidifiers and water pumps. One man drove into town with a pickup truck filled with dozens of 5-gallon buckets.

Anonymous donations of cash were mailed to the volunteer fire department, and that money was distributed to Hornick residents. An organization donated $250 gift cards to Lowe's for every household in town. Someone paid for a caterer to come to down one day and serve hot beef meals to everyone.

"People just were incredibly generous," Newman said.

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The Salvation Army set up in town, serving three meals a day for three weeks.

"Before this, I'd pass a red (Salvation Army) kettle (at Christmas) and not put anything in. Not now. Not after all they did," Hornick resident Deb Nelson said.

And there were the volunteers, so many volunteers.

"Those first few days we had so many volunteers we could hardly keep them busy," Newman said.

At one point, Mitchell said, he looked down Main Street at all the cleanup activity. About 95 percent of the people at work were strangers.

Thanks to all the help, all but two houses were cleaned and disinfected within a week.

Time and time again, we've witnessed the generosity of Siouxlanders responding in times of need.

The March 2019 flood was one more example.

"People will step up and will do things that are pretty amazing that you don't expect," Mitchell said.

Soon after the flood, someone in town said the town would overcome, because they were "Hornick Strong." The mantra stuck, becoming a theme of the recovery efforts.

"It means to me we're all standing in this together," Mitchell said. "We're going to get through this together, and we're going to come out together."

Together with a lot of help from their friends, old and new.

Gavins Point Dam water releases to drop
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