Loebsack Visits With New Sharon Officials

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D) was in New Sharon on Friday to hear from local official how the flooding had impacted the community.

Congressman Dave Loebsack (D) was in New Sharon on Friday to hear from local official how the flooding had impacted the community.

New Sharon, Iowa – Iowa’s 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack (D) visited New Sharon on Friday to get a first hand look at how the flooding impacted the town. New Sharon is in the congressman’s district, and understanding how his office could best help the city recover was one of his priorities.

New Sharon Mayor Dustin Hite and Mahaska County Emergency Manager Jamey Robinson met with the congressman at New Sharon City Hall to share what their experiences were during the flooding. One of the biggest talking points when people talk about the flood was the unprecedented level the river rose to. Hite told Loebsack that no one in town has ever know it to rise as high as it did.

Hite spoke about how the water had come up so quickly, and how around 10pm on Sunday the flood waters inundated the towns pumping station, “making it impossible for us to pump water to our city.”

Hite informed Loebsack about the water trucking process that then took place, with area fire departments transporting water from the Oskaloosa Water Department to New Sharon to help the city keep it’s basic water needs, with the exception being drinking water, as a boil order was then in effect.

Hite then explained that by Tuesday evening, the city was able to restore two pumps to working order. Those two pumps were able to supply the same amount of water that the firetrucks were able to, but the city was still under the boil order and city officials had to ask residents to continue to conserve water.

Then, as of last Friday, the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) gave the drinking water the all clear, but the city remained on just the two pumps, at that point. As of a week later, those two pumps are still all that are in operation, and the city is continuing to ask its citizens to conserve water while plans are underway to possibly raise at least one pump to help prevent this kind of incident in the future.

Hite then thanked Mahaska County Emergency Management for their support during that time.

Mahaska County Emergency Manager Jamey Robinson then spoke with the congressman about the emergency declaration for Mahaska County, saying that potentially, the most recent event could be a presidential declaration. “We’ve met our minimum,” Robinson said. “Right now I think we’re sitting at $175,000 for county [in damage].”

“We’ll do whatever we can,” Loebsack told those gathered. “Is this the worst it’s ever been here?” Loebsack asked.

“For the City of New Sharon, this is the worst we’ve ever had it,” Mayor Hite said. “Our water supply has never really been threatened,” saying the flood waters reached 3 to 4 feet up the side of the pump building.

Loebsack asked the question most everyone wants to know, “How high did it get?”

“That’s the other problem with the North Skunk, is they don’t measure.” Hite informed the Congressman. “It’s a small enough river, there’s no gauges.” Hite explained that since the river has such a small drainage basin, the river rises and falls quickly.

Loebsack suggested contacting the University of Iowa Flood Center in regards to mitigation. “They’ve got flood gauges set up all over the state, beyond USGS.” That could potentially help provide information in the future as to river levels and history.

With that, Congressman Loebsack joined Mayor Hite and Jamey Robinson on a tour of the flood damaged pumping facility, before the congressman then made his way further north to Kellogg.

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