MASON CITY, IA – We’re coming up on the 5 year anniversary of the 2008 flooding of the Winnebago river. Those floods left many without water for days and some small businesses at a stand still.
“It was unbelievable. I don’t think anyone expected the water to come up that high.”
Jaylene Whipple remembers the day a terrible flood nearly destroyed Bills BBQ in Mason City. The business her family owned for decades.
Bill’s BBQ Owner, Jaylene Whipple said, “We had a current out front of the restaurant. I guess, you just couldn’t believe the water had come up that far.”
The disaster happened 5 years ago, but everything is still fresh in her mind.
Whipple said, ” I mean we were out for 6 weeks. We were closed for 6 weeks after the flood.”
Looking over all the damage was heartbreaking.
Whipple said, “The floors were all buckled and you couldn’t open the bathroom door and it was kinda hard to decide if we were just going to give up or start all over again.”
Jaylene wasn’t the only one faced with that tough choice. City officials say the devastation hit small businesses hard.
Mason City City Administrator, Brent Trout said, “Restaurants weren’t going through product, so a lot of product had to be thrown away. They lost business for a week, that was very difficult on them, to lose that much business at that time of the year in the summer. It was very difficult for many businesses.”
But for Jaylene it wasn’t so much the physical damage as the emotional hit she and her family took.
She said, “When our daughter came home for the 4th of July, she wouldn’t even com in here. And I think the change for them was just…it was hard.”
For area homes, 5 years later, many are still going through the flood buy out program.
Trout said, “Whatever homes are not saved, then we’ll need to be finishing demolition. So then we end up with all this green space that we have in the community. And a lot of it has just been decided it will be returned to nature.”
And as the area continues to mend from the 2008 flood, Jaylene says she was able to find a silver lining in a scary and unfortunate situation.
She said, “We didn’t really lose our business and all the support we got from friends and family and customers was unbelievable. I guess, you know, I’m just so grateful we had that.”