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    Posted June 9, 2011 by
    South Sioux City, Nebraska
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Severe weather

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    Missouri River residents cope with coming loss of their homes


    SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEB. - Herman and Sandra Frese are upset with South Sioux City and Corps of Engineers leaders as their home is being sacrificed to the flood of 2011, and no one told them it was not going to be saved.


    In fact the Frese home, along with two others on West Third Street in South Sioux City, are trapped on the wrong side of a Corps of Engineers levee that was constructed early this week.

    All the residents of the neighborhood confirm that no one told them the levee was going to cut them off. They only realized their homes would not be saved when the levee walls started surrounding them.

    Instead, the Frese family assembled friends and volunteers to construct a giant sandbag wall over the past 14 days to protect their home. The neighbors also built protective sandbag walls.

    When they learned their homes would be trapped between the levee and the Missouri River, all hope was lost. The Frese’s are now frantically scurrying to get out of their house.

    “I wish they would have told us in the beginning that we were going to be out of this, I would have gotten a little more organized,” said Herman Frese. “To begin with they said five foot, and it’s (risen) over five foot right now. How many feet higher is it going to get?”

    His wife Sandra said, “They should have told us down here that this was going to happen, and we would not have done all this. We would have just given up and walked away. What good is this all going to do if they are going to put a barricade out here and send all the water this way? We’ve done all this for nothing. No one ever told us (they were trapping them next to the river).”

    Not only did the Frese’s put forth a great deal of hard work and effort, they also spent a large amount of money trying to protect their house.

    “The water is going to be contained – it will be contained in our house. We need more than luck,” Herman said, while Sandra fired back, “I just really don’t understand why they just didn’t tell us.”

    Herman said that before the water rose, there was enough room to construct a levee between the homes and the river. By the time Corps of Engineers contractors arrived nearly a week later, the water was already close to the houses.

    “We could have built our own dike – forget the city. We could have built it across here ourselves,” Herman said.

    The Freses’s couldn’t even get sandbags from the city, so they formed together with their neighbors and purchased bags in Omaha, filling them with sand themselves and with volunteer labor.

    “I spent $500 just for sandbags before anyone even offered,” Sandra said, while Herman said the city finally offered them 250 sandbags—a drop in the bucket compared to the demands of the rising Missouri River.

    “I am frustrated with all the government officials,” Herman said.

    The water was already up on the Frese’s sandbag wall a foot on Wednesday morning, and leaking through—mostly through the ground as the underground water level rose in the area.

    Herman had one sump pump running and realized he was going to need a second one installed.

    “The water we have (coming in) now is coming from underneath (the ground). What is going to happen when we lose power?” Herman asked.

    Next door, at 909 West Third Street, is where John Cain lives. He is about to lose his house as well, and again, no one informed him that the levees would box him in next to the river.

    “I just am finding out they are going to sacrifice three houses here and if they would have just told us we could have avoided a lot of work,” Cain said. “I’ve done everything I can to save my house. I have a 15-foot wall around my house and I have six pumps going in the basement. Now I see them putting up this wall.”

    Cain said he would have not gone through all the hard work of making and placing the sandbag wall around his house if he would have known the Corps of Engineers levee was going to strand his home next to the river.

    “I wasted my time doing this. I’ve also spent a lot of money,” he said. “I’m done, they are going to surround me. The city, surrounding my house to save itself. If they would have come to me – I would have been able to understand what is going on. I understand that the city is more important than my individual house, but the city should not sneak around and lie. They should have been up front and let us know.”

    Cain is a roofing contractor and had 15 to 20 of his paid employees working to protect his house for more than 10 days.

    Cain has moved everything out of his house, but he is still living there.

    “I have a TV on the wall, a bed on my floor and my refrigerator in the garage. I was going to last until the water got to my top floor. As long as I have electricity, I’m going to stay,” Cain said, adding that he has sent the rest of his family out of town for their own safety.

    “I don’t know, I might just leave this town and never come back. This is the worst thing I have ever had happen to me. If I was giving out grades, the city would get an F. They hid themselves under a blanket as long as they could because they didn’t want to tell us what was going on. They finally had to stick their head out and now they don’t want to help us – giving me sand is not the answer to this. Where is the National Guard? Why aren’t they here helping us?” Cain asked.

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