Family’s Lehigh Home in Danger of Flooding

LEHIGH, Iowa – Most of the time the Johnson family of Lehigh enjoys having their home right on the Des Moines River. But now their house is in the river and the only way to get to it is by canoe. The street sign, “River Street” says it all.

“The Des Moines River at it’s finest,” Mark Johnson says. “Just watching it raise basically.”

This isn’t the first time the Johnsons have seen flooding like this. That’s one of the downsides of living by the Des Moines River.

“In 2010 the water level came up to here,” Dena Johnson recalls pointing to a spot about three feet high on her porch. “And that was the highest that it’s ever been since we’ve lived here and we’ve lived here since 1993. And we had to have a motorboat, had it tied up to the deck. And step on the ledge into the boat to get out and that was the only way could.”

With a combination of prayers and plywood, the Johnsons say they are about as ready as they can be. “We use plywood and caulk against the brick,” Mark Johnson says. “The brick holds it out and we got four big sump pumps in the basement to keep the water below the floor line is all.”

“You can’t control mother nature,” Dena Johnson adds. “And this is what happens when you live along a waterway and it’s part of life. Everything’s not always perfect but you make the best of it.”

The Johnsons say they doubt the river will rise enough to fill their home with water. But if it does, the family says they will just clean up the mess like they have in the past.


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