Iowa and Nebraska homeowners struggling to rebuild after heartland floods

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Almost six months have passed since the devastating heartland floods in March, and victims are still struggling to rebuild. Countless families in Nebraska and Iowa were displaced, and some remain out of their homes. For people in Iowa, there's a reason the process is taking even longer.

Homeowners contemplate rebuilding after their homes were destroyed after heartland floods in March (Source: WOWT).

"Hard and stressful." That's how some flood victims describe the road to recovery when it comes to their homes and lives. When the Missouri River burst its banks in March, it created some of the worst damage some have ever seen.

Officials say remaining water is pushing the rebuilding process back. Workers trying to help rebuild in areas like Fremont County, Iowa don't have access to get there. The emergency management director Mike Crecelius says the water stops broken levees from being fixed. During the flood, many roads were completely destroyed, and half a year later, some people still can't even get to their homes.

"They're looking at the same thing all over again, and there's been some people that have talked about not rebuilding and not coming back," says Crecelius.

Around 1,300 people in Iowa filed for FEMA's individual assistance program. Officials say that's the best way to try and figure out how many homes still need repair. For some, the decision is clear. They won't be starting over again.

This year's flood has caused victims to go through the heartache of leaving their homes, and for some, they never came back. Others have found a temporary place to stay but say it's nothing like being home. One Iowa woman says she's had to replace everything.

Homeowner Phyllis Layman has lived in Fremont County, Iowa for years. For the past six months, she's been living in an apartment. This is all due to the flood earlier this year that completely destroyed her home. She's battling with the decision to return or not. She says making the choice has been hard without her husband, "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."

There are many others contemplating on starting over in Iowa or not. For those affected by the flood back in 2011, the decision is even harder.

Here in Nebraska, more than 80 counties were impacted by the flood, including Lancaster County. Iowa officials say the recovery process is step-by-step. With the rate of progress right now, they say it could take three to five years to fully repair the counties.