Relief Workers Fill Iowa Campgrounds
Brian Trapp’s and Marti Jaso’s blue and gray tents sit side-by-side at the West Overlook Campground near the Coralville Reservoir in eastern Iowa.
Trapp and Jaso are construction workers who have relocated to Iowa City to help in flood relief and rebuilding. Local campgrounds have seen flocks of workers pitch tents while in town to clean up after the flood, according to The Daily Iowan, Iowa City.
Bill Kallaus, the manager of Funcrest Campground, said that he has had quite a few people from all over setting up camp – helping him see a definite increase in business from last year.
“We had 100 guys in two big tents here for a while,” he said. The men were there to help with various projects, including UI (University of Iowa) building renovation.
Colony Country Campground in North Liberty has also hosted a flock of workers, said Beth Saxon, co-owner. “I have turned away about 50 workers because we were full,” she said.
A vast mix of people has visited Colony Country Campground. “(Some) grand people, and then not so grand,” Saxon said.
Directly after the flood, the campground had several “storm-chasers,” people who wanted to make fast money off the flood. They only stayed a day or two and then moved on, she said.
Now, mostly union electricians and pipefitters are staying at Colony Country Campground. “They will probably be here for two to three months,” Saxon said.
Although Trapp and Jaso have not been in Iowa City for that long, they are certainly not storm-chasers. Trapp has been here for three weeks so far, and Jaso for about a month.
West Overlook Campgrounds officials said they have had quite a few workers similar to Trapp and Jaso. “They’re staying anywhere from six weeks to two months,” said Colleen Vargason, a gate attendant.
The campground itself was flooded for a while, she said. It has 189 sites, and only 70 were usable, she said. “Several people who were displaced after the flood took most of those spots,” Vargason said. “And the rest went to workers.”
Though Colony Country Campground is more than happy to host workers for flood relief, it leaves only a small section for actual vacationers.
“We have to keep turning people away to save sites (for families),” she said. While Trapp is looking to pull up his stakes and get back to his permanent home in Vining, Iowa, soon, Jaso said he’ll stay as long as there are ways he can help out on the flood cleanup.
“It’s not just about the money,” he said. “It’s an adventure, not a job.”