Flooded towns to impact the 2020 Census numbers

Omaha, Neb. (WOWT) It's a blow for towns still trying to recover from this year's historic flooding.

Pacific Junction, Iowa

When Census data is collected this spring displaced flood victims must use their temporary address to fill out the form, even if they plan to return to their flood-stricken home.

"We don't want to fall off the map, you know, there are a lot of proud people in this town and we'd like to see it come back,” said Cindi Bibb. She’s working to repair her home in Pacific Junction. Like the other 200 plus homes in the Iowa town, it was wiped out by the floodwaters in March.

The town’s mayor, Andy Young is seeing more and more people coming wanting to come back, but it’s going to take time to rebuild.

"It's coming slowly, but we're getting there. we knew it wasn't going to happen quickly,” said Mayor Young.

He noted, the chances of people being moved back by the time the Census is taken on April 1, are low, which means they’ll have to use their temporary address. A tough reality for the mayor, who said he needs those people to count in his town.

“It's (the census) an important part of maintaining your tax base in your towns and your community,” said Mayor Young.

His concern is the misleading count could cut the town short of government grants and other funding. With his primary worry being infrastructure costs.

“The number one thing that would affect us is our road use tax. when your census goes down then your road use tax goes down from the state.”

He noted that they rely on those funds to maintain their roads and if the dollars stop coming it would have a crippling impact on the town.

Cindi Bibb is not sure exactly when she'll get back into her house.

"It takes a lot there's something to do every day and just have time to get a lot done before going to work,” said Bibb. “It's trips to Menards, and trips to Home Depot, and into town."

With any luck, those trips will come to end long before Census time.

The Census Bureau says it will start mailing out forms in mid-March and that people displaced by the flood should go online where there's an option to fill out the census even if they don't receive a form by mail.