HORNICK, Iowa -- Hundreds of people showed up at a fundraiser pancake feed Saturday morning at the Hornick Fire Department and City Council building, as the small northwest Iowa town continues its recovery after a flood and evacuation earlier in the month.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began accepting registrations for disaster assistance Friday night. A dozen or more FEMA workers were set up at the Hornick Town Hall Saturday.
"You register, and then based upon your situation, we'll see what you are eligible for," said Kevin Wallace, the FEMA Division Supervisor for Iowa FEMA Division B, which includes Woodbury and Monona counties. FEMA can give grants of up to $34,900 for eligible residents, the amount depending on each individual's situation.
Hornick was a top priority for Woodbury County Emergency Management officials. A levee on the West Fork of the Little Sioux River near Hornick was breached the week of March 14, and residents were evacuated for several days.
Mayor Scott Mitchell, who ordered the evacuation after the levee broke, said most residents have made at least some progress cleaning up. He and others at the pancake feed said the flood damage was surprisingly selective, impacting certain buildings while leaving others nearby virtually untouched.
"I would say, 80 to 85 percent of the homes that were affected by the flood, their basements have been cleaned up, and sheet-rock and stuff removed," Mitchell said.
By Mitchell's estimate, roughly half of the homes and businesses in Hornick were damaged by the floodwaters.
"Here's the point: the whole town was affected by the flood," Mitchell said. "This whole community was affected."
One of the more colorful stories to emerge from the flooding was that of Loretta Prichard, who came into a small, unusual windfall as a result of the flooding.
Prichard kept an old, wooden floor radio that had belonged to her late father in her basement sewing room. Her father had apparently used it for some years as a nightstand.
The radio was destroyed by the floodwaters in her basement.
"It was falling apart," she said of the radio when she found it after the flood. "It was beyond repair."
She took the old radio, along with other destroyed electronics, to dispose of them. A Hornick fireman, Erik Lindsay, picked up the radio to put it in a dumpster.
"I accidentally bumped it against the side of the dumpster, and it was waterlogged so the whole thing fell apart," Lindsay said. "I looked down, and saw -- first thing I thought it was Monopoly money."
Inside the radio was $1,100, which had apparently been squirreled there by Prichard's father and subsequently forgotten. The bills found dated to between 1950 and 1974.
Another fireman, Dale Ronfeldt, figured out the radio came from Prichard's house and returned the money to her.
But even with that unexpected bonanza, Prichard's flood story wasn't all happy. The flooding claimed her furnace, which was only a few years old, as well as her water softener and freezer.
"We had about four and a half feet of water in our basement," she said. "We had to tear the sheet-rock out."
She did, however, manage to rescue her sewing equipment, which she called the "most important." At least two of her neighbors also faced basement flooding and broken furnaces.
"My son lives two houses to the north of us, and he didn't get any water damage," she said. "But he didn't have a basement, so that helps."
During the evacuation, Prichard stayed at her boss's residence in Sloan and for a while with her son. After the evacuation ended she came back, and has already replaced the furnace and water softener.
Like others in Hornick, Prichard requested disaster assistance from FEMA. An inspector from the agency was expected to come to her house later in the day.
"We'll find out today," she said with a laugh.