Residents Fear Empty Promises From Des Moines City Council on Flood Protection Efforts

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Homeowners along Four Mile Creek are outraged as they dig mud out of their basements for the third time in eight years.

Now, they want to find out if city leaders plan to make improving the area a priority. Their complaints were echoed in Beaverdale, where sanitary sewers overflowed into basements. Neighbors say the city has neglected the community’s aging sewer system for years.

Residents turned to the Des Moines City Council for answers on Monday night.

Des Moines Public Works has removed an estimated six million pounds of flood debris from throughout the metro, but residents say that’s not enough. Some want longterm change in the form of policy.

“Back in April I bought my first house, not knowing that everything was going to be destroyed,” resident Amanda Hatfield said.

Hatfield’s Beaverdale home saw more than three feet of water, and the structure is now considered a total loss.

“I have no car, I have no place to live, I don’t even have food on my table every night because something you guys didn’t fix five years ago when you knew about it,” she said to the city council.

Hatfield, who lives on 57th Street, says the city knew the storm drains were too old and unable to handle an unexpected downpour–and she’s not alone.

“You have got to find the revenue for those storm sewers. No other option, you’ve got to find it,” resident Jenni Clise said.

“I think the city needs to develop an emergency disaster plan, and this needs to include all parties,” added resident LeAnn Auxier.

She believes she and her neighbors did not receive aid fast enough, and council member Christopher Coleman agrees.

“I think that a policy is probably necessary and that we should probably think about it before the heat of the moment for exactly what we do when, and this is not to be critical of anybody,” Coleman said.

The council unanimously voted to establish a committee, in the hopes of developing an emergency disaster plan and to bring lessons learned from this flood to light.

Coleman wants to report back with nominations for a disaster committee by September 30th. The city council did not act on potential buyouts. In the past, though, it has only bought out homes that sit in a known floodplain, which would not include the Beaverdale properties.