Daniel and Kate Stockstell are ready for a new beginning and a new normal.
The recently married couple had only been in their home on G Street in Hamburg for six months when the March flood changed, disrupted and destroyed the lives of many Hamburg citizens.
Kate said the house on G Street didn’t get as much damage as many of those ravaged by the flood waters, but the damage was still substantial.
A foot of water invaded the one-floor home, leaving mud in its wake, destroying flooring, sending furniture floating and reeking havoc.
At first though, Daniel and Kate thought a rebuild was in the future. They visited just days after the flooding, when water had receded from their part of town, to get a first assessment of damage. After that initial look, and as the hours turned to days, thoughts of a rebuild faded. The damage was bank-breaking, the threat of more flooding was real, and, most importantly, there was a new option.
Enter Rural Housing 360, an Iowa program that offered better financial terms for building a house outside of the flood zone.
Building a home, in the most certain of times, is a big undertaking, financially and emotionally, so one can imagine the decision to build, to commit to a floor plan and to work through all the logistics, was anything but easy.
The house has been built at L Street and Main Street in Hamburg. It turned out to be a two-bed and two-bath home with a full basement and the possibility of eventually having four bedrooms.
Of course the build was immediate. And the wait is still not over.
In the meantime, the couple has had the benefit of a temporary home before moving to the permanent one. Kate explained that her parents had purchased a new home, but had not gotten rid of the old one yet.
Life went on for the Stockstells, but it always had that feeling of temporary.
The 360 Housing Program is one that operates on a tight profit margin. One of the ways it succeeds is by reducing cost as much as possible. With that in mind, the program waited as applications came in and were reviewed and serious applications moved forward. It would be more cost effective to do several homes in short order rather than one now and one later and still one later than that, and so on.
When the processes turned to construction, the whole operation picked up speed. And, as of this writing, Kate thought two weeks were left before the Stockstells would make the move from temporary to permanent and normal and, most importantly, out of the flood zone.
There will be joy in making the move. There will also be heartache too. Kate said she and her husband were still unpacking boxes and getting a feel for their G Street home when the flood waters came.
Much was lost. The confusion, Kate recalls, loomed large.
Some of the older residents of town said water would never reach the G Street property. So, why panic? Some were panicking and taking their belongings out to higher ground. Others didn’t seem concerned at all.
Kate said she didn’t know what to do, so she panicked, at least somewhat.
“It was like a bad dream,” she said.
Kate got out mattresses, TVs and most of the couples’ clothes. And she tried to make value judgements on items in a very Marie Kondo sort of way. For those unfamiliar, Kondo is famous for the TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and preaches what she calls the KonMari method, a system of simplifying and organizing your home by getting rid of physical items that do not bring joy into your life.
Kate’s process of determining joy had a lot to do with speed and not a lot to do with contemplation, but that, of course, was by necessity.
When the flood came, it got most of the couple’s belongings. Silver lining: there isn’t as much to move now.
The positive focus is definitely still there though. Both Daniel and Kate have their employment. Kate works at the school. Daniel works at Manildra. And the house will soon be ready. And the future will seem real with less contingencies and temporary plans.
Life will go on post flood. And that’s all the couple would ever want.