Des Moines family looks back at trying year after floods

Local News

DES MOINES – We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the major flooding that happened around Des Moines.

Local 5 went back to check on a woman whose family lost nearly everything in the flood including priceless memories like photos. In the last 12 months, we’ve seen the daily struggle to get back on their feet. While the government couldn’t help her, she’s grateful for those who stepped up instead.

“I didn’t really think much of it until I walked inside. There’s no words to express. It was a shock,” she said.

Since last summer’s flooding, Yolanda Rubio and her family have invested hundreds of hours into rebuilding.

“They had to jack up the house, actually, to even it all out,” said Rubio.

The space from top to bottom looks different, but their anxiety is still very fresh.

“Every time it rains, we’re scared that the same thing that happened last year is going to happen to us again,” she said. 

Just last month, the yard was like a miniature lake again.

To top it all off, throughout last summer and fall, it was difficult for her family to get the attention of local leaders to help them.

“Nobody ever came out here,” said Rubio. “I know I spoke to one of the councilman in the district, and he never heard of such a street.”

Thanks to the strength of volunteers who spent the hot summer days working, their home looks vastly different.

“Everything right here, the wall got torn down here,” said Rubio. “This arch is new. This island is new.”

When asked where she’d be if volunteers hadn’t stepped up to help, she replied, “Probably the house would be up for foreclosure. I’d probably just give it up and probably struggling to get somewhere else.”

To make sure these changes last, and they preserve all they have, the Rubio’s have adjusted their emergency plans.

“We’re prepared this year,” she said.

As a family, they’ll never forget how they got here or the grind to find their footing again.

“We’re always going to have it in the back of our heads that this is what happened in ’18, but we need to get it out of our heads, so we can move forward and see what better things we can do in the future,” said Rubio.

Rubio keeps one of the restricted occupation notices as a reminder of what her family went through. She’s also hoping to one day have a professional help her salvage some photos damaged by the flood.

Local 5 is looking back at the floods of 2018 with a We Are Iowa Original. Premiering live at 8pm, it’ll be hosted by Stephanie Angleson with stories from her, me and our team of Local 5 photojournalists.   

Local 5 has been following this story since the beginning. Here are related stories related to Yolanda’s struggles with the flood: 

• Flood victim continues to wait on Polk County for answers 

• Metro family giving back as they move back into their home following floods 

• Family scared about another possible flood 

• Woman’s memories swept away by floods  

• House being rebuilt for family impacted by flood   

©TEGNA Inc. 2019. All Rights Reserved.