Iowa Senate passes bill providing $21 million in flood-recovery as some sweat levee repair timelines

(WOWT) -- The Iowa Senate approved $21 million to flood-stricken counties Wednesday. It’s the recovery funding injection they've been waiting for — but for one county, time is running out.

Levees and drainage ditches protecting interstates, farmland, and homes in Pottawattamie County are still riddled with damage. Last year’s historic flooding caused about $12.5 million in damage to the levees in northwest Pottawattamie County.

"We've been working real hard on solving the funding Rubik's Cube we're facing with all this,” said Doug Reed, the county's emergency management director.

Funding levee fixes in this part of the county is tricky; costs that aren't covered by FEMA or the state fall on taxpayers — and it's a time-consuming process.

"Advertise for a public hearing, conduct a public hearing and then get the authorizations, and then let for bids and then wait for those to come in, so it all adds up,” Reed said.

Darren West's family was cut off from their home for nearly 10 months last year.

“It’s a pretty eerie feeling when you're not protected,” West said. “We were protected for years by those levees; and now, they're just not there."

West said he's prepared to get his family out of the home if the water hits again.

“I hope nothing happens, but you never know," he said. "You never know if you'll be moving or not. And hopefully if we do, they'll be plenty of warning, so we can get out safely."

Officials are relieved more state funding is likely on the way, but as quickly as that cash may flow, there's still a long way to go in getting the levees back up to par.

“March 1st is probably not realistic,” said Reed, noting the availability of contractors and weather conditions are still major factors. ”It's so hard to estimate when we could get these done in terms of the realistic."

Officials are hoping for dry weather — both here and up north — over the next several weeks, to help keep the river levels down.

“We're in a position where we need to be cautious, but we're not ringing any major alarm bells yet,” Reed said.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign-off on the $21 million in flood-recovery funds. Then it’s up to the Flood Mitigation Board to determine exactly what projects will be funded.

Local officials are hoping to hear some news within the next couple of weeks.