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    Posted September 1, 2011 by
    South Sioux City, Nebraska

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    Life behind the levee


    South Sioux City’s West Third Street lies in ruins


    By Jim Headley

    Dakota County Star Managing Editor


    SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEB. - After three months of being trapped between a giant dirt levee and the rising Missouri River, life has become very bleak on South Sioux City’s West Third Street.

    John and Shelly Cain live in one of the three houses that are trapped between the river and the West Third Street levee. Their house is a disaster zone as flood waters inundated their lower floor while their extensive deck system and outdoor swimming pool was demolished.

    Still the Cains attempted to live in their wonderful home but could not for the past six weeks.

    Life was just too unbearable to endure as the muddy Missouri took over their lives.

    “I moved to Sioux City for a while, I had to,” John Cain said. “I just put a water heater into our house and I have to get a furnace in. I have to get the basement cleaned – it really stinks in there. I’m trying to get back in (their home) as soon as I can. I am still mad about this levee being built in front of my house. I sometimes question if I should still live in this town after what they did to me.”

    When the flood started Cain learned his house was basically on the wrong side of the street when the contractor started building the levee down the middle of West Third Street.

    When asked if he plans to rebuild and stay in his South Sioux City home located right on the river, Cain said, “As of right now ya. I am just really upset. They have kind of abandoned West Third Street. You don’t see anybody down here. Lance (Hedquist, South Sioux City Administrator) said he’s been down here three or four times but I haven’t seen him.”

    Cain is tired of living in the flood damaged area and questions why the city doesn’t seem to be cleaning up the area or working on removing the levee, which blocks access to two of the three houses trapped next to the river. Meanwhile, the city has moved quickly to cut down nearly 400 large cottonwood trees that are dead or dying in the city’s Scenic Park.

    The city is moving forward at breakneck speed to cleanup and fix areas in Scenic Park in order to reopen their RV park next spring.

    “What – they’re concerned about Scenic Park and they’re not concerned about West Third Street – we have a freekin’ levee sitting on our street – a dirt levee and they have some trees down. No one is going to use that park the rest of this year anyway, so let’s get this street cleaned up. People do live here and no one lives in Scenic Park,” Cain said.

    “It’s always dirty because of this mud street. Every time it rains you have a mess and sand is everywhere. Just look at it. It is terrible down here right now,” Cain said adding he is very concerned about the debris floating down the river as well as toxins in the water.

    “There is some nasty stuff coming down – it’s bad. Have you been down there? And that mud in my backyard. I stepped on it and I slid right into the river. I lost a lot of my yard. It’s gone. It washed away. I don’t know what we’re going to find when this flood is all gone,” Cain said.

    Talking about his flood ravaged deck system is rather painful for Cain.

    “Yes, I think I lost it. The pool is gone. The deck – I don’t know. I know my dock is gone. My deck that I had on the river is gone. I lost all the landscaping that I had in the back,” he said.

    Last week representatives from FEMA were in town to assist flood victims.

    “I met with FEMA yesterday when they were down here. FEMA isn’t doing anything. All they are doing is asking questions and they want to know what’s going on. They told me where I can go to get a loan. Well, I already know where to get a loan. I needed FEMA down here before this happened to tell me how to sandbag and to help us sandbag. I didn’t know what to do and there was no one here to tell us. Then they stick a levee in front of my house – I am so mad about this levee,” Cain said.

    Stress was something that was really starting to affect John Cain as the flood waters rose.

    “I was pretty stressed there trying to protect my house. I went as long as I could. When that water went to 160,000 (cubic feet per second) I had 12 pumps going and it just kept coming up and I could not stop it,” Cain said.

    Cain is still waiting to find out whether the foundation and walls of his house can be saved. Engineers are currently examining the structure to determine if it is safe.

    Cain placed large doses of algaecide and chlorine pills in his basement to prevent serious damage but it did little good as mold started growing on the ceiling of his lower floor.

    “I still had mold on the ceiling and on the walls even though I had taken the sheet rock out four feet up. After sitting there all that time, mold just started growing,” he said.

    The Cain’s do have flood insurance but the coverage only pays for damage inside the house. It won’t cover any of the outside damages like the deck and pool area.

    “If it is structural, I’m in trouble. I don’t think it is. I might have to do something with the floors but I think the walls will be fine,” Cain said.

    The Cain’s also just completed a complete remodeling of their home last winter.

    “The decks aren’t cheap. The yard isn’t cheap and all they pay for is the inside,” Cain said.


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