HEARTLAND FLOOD: Six months after the flood, victims still trying to get back home

Nearly a half-year deep in disaster, flood victims are still fighting a bruising battle to get back to where they once lived. More than 1,000 properties in Iowa alone are still in need of repair. Some face a long road to recovery.

People in McPaul, Iowa still don’t have official access to their homes and that’s only one example of how long this recovery is taking.

When the Missouri River broke its banks in March, homes anywhere near Interstate 29 lost the battle that followed. In Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont counties, approximately 1,300 people have filed for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program.

Officials say that’s the best way to estimate how many homes are in need of repair. In Fremont County there are approximately 520 of such houses.

Mike Crecelius is the county's Emergency Management Director and he said, “A lot of what the problem is right now is there's still water out there. The Corps cannot get to a couple of the outlet breaches because of the amount of water out there and we have roads that were thoroughly destroyed and have to be rebuilt just so some people can get to their houses."

Not everyone is looking to return to their homes. Some are waiting on a buyout while others are still trying to decide whether or not to rebuild.

The officials that 6 News spoke with Monday were very clear that we are still about three to even five years away from full recovery from this year's flood.

Phyllis Layman has been living in an apartment for nearly six months. “It’s okay,” she said. “It's a place for me to stay - but it's not home."

Layman owns one the approximately homes in Iowa damaged by the flood. “I have to replace everything. The furnace, the air condition, the water pump."

Recovery is a step-by-step process. Crecelius said, “We have roads that were thoroughly destroyed and have to be rebuilt just so some people can get to their houses."

He said that for people hit by the flood in 2011 it's a tough decision whether or not to make the repairs. “Eight years later they're looking at the same thing again. And there's people talking about not rebuilding, not coming back."

Layman is one of the people trying to decide whether to return. It's a decision she wishes her late husband was here to make with her.

“This is where we were going to live. Of course we raised our daughters here. And it's just tough to walk away from it."

We gathered our Iowa numbers from the four counties. We're still working on the Nebraska numbers where more than 80 counties were impacted by the flood.