Flood victims turn to mortgage assistance program to stay afloat

Published: Dec. 3, 2019 at 6:52 PM CST
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For Paula Guastello and her husband Scotty Keller, it’s a relief. Their dream acreage was hit hard by floodwaters in March.

“Every time I come here I feel kind of vulnerable,” said Paula. Her mom, Christine, is visiting from Washington, DC to be Paula until Scotty returns.

He’s a way from home often with the Air Force. Paula tried returning home after the floodwaters receded, but the threat of more water and being alone was too much.

"I just felt scared that someone could come into the house, see I'm by myself and try and rob me or . . . so I always had my dog with me so now just having another person here is a lot better,” said Paula.

It’s all taking a financial toll as well. The couple is one of 90 homeowners in Mills County (not including Pacific Junction) who've signed up for a FEMA buyout.

“I have my apartment in Lincoln and I’ve also been boarding the horses and paying the mortgage here, so that's been tough,” said Guastello.

They plan to apply for some help through the mortgage assistance program

which Mills County is making available through the Iowa Flood Recovery Fund. Paula says it will relieve some of the pressure of living pay check to pay check.

“It will mean stuff like having my horse break his jaw and all the vet bills associated with that won't be horrifying,” said Paul.

Christine says she’s proud of Paula and Scotty for making it through this tough time together.

"The saddest image for me is a picture their friend Marie took with Scotty's arm around Paula looking over their beautiful property,” said Christine.

Eventually, their home will be torn down by FEMA. but for now, Paula wants to enjoy the time she has left on this property before she has to move on with her beloved animals; who she says at times were the only reason she got out of bed.

“There have even been days when I don't want to keep going at all,” said Paula. “But know I have to take care of my animals and that's literally what's kept me going this whole time."

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