Popcorn Day and 4th of July fireworks plans were topics of the recent Hamburg City Council meeting.
Hamburg’s annual celebration, Popcorn Day, is a holiday celebrated each September. With the flooding this year, there was some question as to whether that could go forward.
Hamburg Mayor Cathy Crain said she planned to meet with Kiwanis, the major planner of the event, in the hopes of making sure it happens on schedule for 2019.
Crain said that having Popcorn Day is proof that Hamburg’s citizens are fighting to save their town.
“We have optics that we have to show to the state. We’ve got to prove that we don’t give up,” Crain said. “We got to keep doing that.”
Al Dovel of the city of Hamburg said that, by September, he expects that levee work will be underway and that Main Street would be open, thus allowing for the Popcorn Day parade.
Another celebration, the 4th of July fireworks show, which are usually viewed from baseball field, could have a new location this year. The new location for viewing could be the Hamburg school. The plan would be to shoot the fireworks off at the nearby temporary well site.

Colonial Theater
Jodi Hendrickson of the Colonial Theater appeared before the city council to give an update on efforts to re-open the theater. The electricity issues at the building should be solved soon and seats have been located for the theater.
A fundraiser might be coming up to buy seats. Those who donated money toward a seat could have their name recognized on the seat for that contribution.
 The contractor who had done previous renovations for the theater is providing estimates for work that needs to be done. Hendrickson said the theater has $25,000 in funds that it can use for renovations and felt that it may be possible to get work done for that amount. Additional funds from a Facebook group and from the Hamburg Economic Development fund could assist as well.
Members of the council encouraged the theater goup to push forward. The city will make a power washer available to wash the main floor. Work for washing the floor, installing seats and other work at the theater will be done by volunteers.

Other business:
Approved a street closure for an estate auction.
Approved a cigarette permit for Casey’s.
Approved an ammendment to the 28E agreement for the Hamburg Fire Protection Agency, which is purchasing a new fire truck. The ammendment would place the truck under city ownership while Hamburg Fire Protection works to pay off the loan for the truck. At the conclusion of the loan, the truck would be owned by the Hamburg Fire Protection.
City council members were informed by a citizen about concerns regarding a damaged building that was effecting that citizen’s property and asked for help in the situation. The citizen was informed that efforts had been made and would continue to be made to contact the owner of the damaged property to remedy the situation.
Al Dovel of public works for the city of Hamburg, informed the council members that he had found someone who would like to purchase up to two semi-loads of sand that had previously been used for flood abatement efforts.
Approved a building permit for Kent Benefiel, who abstained from the vote. Also tabled a building permit submitted by Jordan Hayes as he was not present for the meeting.

Disaster Progress
A progress report was read by Hamburg Mayor Cathy Crain at the recent meeting of the Hamburg City Council.
The following tasks have been achieved as the city fights to recover from this year’s historic flooding:
City has drinkable water.
Large employers in town have made committed to staying after the disaster and recovery.
ConAgra of Hamburg will be increasing its number of workers by adding a third shift.
Public swimming pool is filled and opened June 10.
Park Plaza, Hamburg’s affordable housing agency, is waiting for an engineer to determine the scope of work required to rehab apartments near the city park.
Two miles of Hesko barrier bags have been installed near the flag pole in downtown Hamburg as a flood protection by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Levee protection has been put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect Hamburg’s water assets.
Dirt has been added to the three-mile west ditch levee, which stopped over-topping.
Seven pumps are running for flood abatement.
Work is continuing on debris removal.
Most of the city’s equipment has been replaced.
Private donations to Hamburg’s relief efforts have reached $90,000.

Out of 32 Hamburg businesses, the following are open: ConAgra, Grape Hospital, Hamburg Electric, Hamburg Oil, Keims International Harvest, Risky Business, Oakes Repair, the Medical Clinic, Oswald Crow, Awesome Possum, Country Time Antiques and Pioneer Seed.
Five businesses are offering limited services. Those are NAPA, Casey’s, Stoner Drugs, Bartlett Grain and the Hamburg Reporter.
Businesses that the city knows have plans to open at this time include AgriVision, which will open when final levee protections are in place. Manildra plans to open in September and Great Western Bank will open in July. Other businesses might also have plans and the city will know more about those statuses by the next city council meeting.

Much work still remains in order to get permits to Hamburg residents who wish to rebuild after flood damage to their properties. FEMA has 270 property damage calculations by few permits have been issued.  Aid from FEMA, both to individuals to the city are dependent on getting permits to the residents affected by the flood. Mayor Crain said that three weeks of work have resulted in 17 permits being issued. Crain said a different tact may be taken to get more permits out.
The city of Hamburg submitted the names of 54 residents, for the second time, to receive FEMA trailers, but it is anticipated that few will end up receiving the help.

A committee will be formed and will be comprised of city council members Russell Stockstell and Willy Thorpe; Al Dovel, representing the public utilities; and a group of citizens. The committee will help determine the final restrictions for housing in the flooded area going forward and will help to establish the boundaries for city services.
The work of the committee is part of the work required for establishing FEMA buyouts for the citizens of Hamburg.
Another issue the city is facing is finding the 15 percent buy in that is required to receive FEMA funds. At current, the city has no funds and has been operating on loaned dollars. Options for finding 15 percent of the estimated $3 million in damage to housing in Hamburg include applying for a portion of $15 million in state aid, applying for funds from the Nishnabotna Watershed bill and applying for a portion of Iowa’s allotment of the $19.1 billion in federal disaster relief funds.

In terms of finding housing solutions in Hamburg, the city is working to find vacant and de-lap-a-dated lots which can be utilized for new housing. The city is participating in an Iowa Economic Development program which will assist citizens in getting homes built on those lots. A total of 13 credit applications have been received from citizens. When final approval is given, factory homes could then be placed on a lot determined to be available by the city.
Also, work continues as the city of Hamburg plans a potential new sub division for housing. The city could get access to funds through a state revolving fund for water and sewer hook ups. Funding is being sought for streets and lights. It’s possible that funding for the flooded area could be used for the new development. The city is working with a city planner on other particulars of the new housing and land is being appraised in the target area for the new development.

Grants which the city has been awarded thus far include a rural water study grant, a $1 million USDA water grant and  a $150,000 USDA Water distribution grant. A water engineer has been found by the city to do work to complete these grants.

In joining with the request to receive $15 million in state disaster relief dollars, the city has made requests to the same for a $1 million in cost associated with obtaining the ditch 6 levee dirt and funds to pay city staff members.