The Difference a Week Makes: Kelley Before and After Flooding

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KELLEY, Iowa  --  Last Friday, the west side of Kelley looked like this: a lake where a cul-de-sac should have been, water almost to the top of mailboxes, and the main field in the park looked more like an Olympic swimming pool.  Six days later, on Thursday, those same areas have dead grass and damaged property, but now they’re dry.

“A lot of the water started going down...I think the last of it was gone Sunday morning,” said resident Beth Opperman.

The town had been pumping water nonstop until Wednesday night.

“That's the only thing that helped it go out because the tile couldn't keep up,” said Opperman.

The town received between 12-15 inches of rain in the span of just a few days, and officials say it was too much for the tile system that was built about 100 years ago. Opperman and her roommate, Ashley Kellogg, say their house was spared damage, but they had their own struggles.

“I actually had to have work come pick me up one day because with that much water you can’t do anything about it,” said Kellogg.

However, the two women consider themselves lucky, saying their neighbor has eight feet of water in her basement and is now living with relatives out of town.

“If we had eight feet of water in our basement we would have lost our belongings just as much, and now they're looking at seeing what they have to do, whether they're going to raise it or sell it,” said Opperman.

Even with most of the town dry, Kelley isn't quite out of the woods. Water is almost grate-high in the storm drains, and fire officials are looking to the sky.

“We're keeping an eye on the weather right now. If we get another inch, two inches of rain, we could be in trouble. It gives you butterflies in your stomach just knowing what we might have to go through again. Now this time the pumps are set up so it'll be a little bit easier, but I still don't want to see the community go through the headache,” said Assistant Fire Chief Randy Graham.

Graham says they don’t have a figure for how much the cleanup has cost, but keeping the pumps running with diesel fuel hasn't been cheap.

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