Residents of Hamburg lose everything, left to wait for water to recede

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HAMBURG, Iowa (WOWT) - Levees and manmade walls were no match for the amount of water that made its way into the tiny southwestern Iowa town of Hamburg.

Officials in the town said no one was hurt as of Monday, but a lot of people suffered great losses.

The town attempted to fight off the flood by building a wall with containers full of sand, but the water tore through the wall early Monday morning and rushed into the neighborhoods.

"Our HESCO barriers that we put across E St. breached on us. The water got to the top of them. We didn't expect it to get quite so tall," Allen Dovel with the City of Hamburg said.

Residents received an early morning wakeup call, as evacuations began around 3:45 a.m.

"Well, apparently it came in within 30 minutes. It came in about six blocks and it just kept right on going," resident Darrell Allumbaugh said. "The bad part this time is the Missouri River levee breached. It's just like a funnel and we're right in the end of the funnel. "

Allumbaugh has lived in Hamburg for 60 years and said he's never seen so much water on the streets.

"It made it to the flag pole in Main St. in 2011 with (Interstate) 29 got flooded. It made it to the end of Main St., but we're a quarter mile further than where it was the last time. It's never been up here long as I've ever lived here. Even '52, the year of the big flood, it never got this high, I don't think," he said.

Buffy and Payton Chaney have only lived in Hamburg for a few years. Their house is underwater and the pair is finding it all very hard to deal with.

"Considering it's our first flood, it's heartbreaking. Never experiencing and just watching rescue boats go down, I mean, it's speechless. Devastating. Heartbreaking," Burry Chaney said.

Some people spent Monday trying to keep the water out of their homes, but for others it was just too late.

John Davis is a climate analyst whose home is underwater in Hamburg.

"The amount of snow and ice pack you guys had over the last month was more than this whole system, the levees could not have held. There's nothing anybody could have done," he said.

The town was left to wait and see what's left after the water recedes.

In 2011, the downtown area stayed dry during the flood because the town piled extra dirt on top of the levee nearby. Hamburg officials wanted to keep the higher levee, but federal officials said the town had to make millions of dollars in improvements to keep the higher wall.

The town could not afford the improvements, and the wall was lowered. On Sunday, the flood water flowed over that lower levee.