Iowa Campground Owner Feels Ignored
As his campground recovers from July’s historic flooding, Iowa campground owner Chip Smith wonders why his plight hasn’t received more attention.
“The hardest thing about this whole situation is the lack of help from the state,” Smith told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
Smith, owner of Walnut Acres Campground in Monticello, said Iowa Gov. Chet Culver hasn’t offered any help with his property since the flood, and Smith questioned the state’s priorities with flood recovery.
While the campground is open, only the upper end of the park is back in operation, Smith said. He added the campground had a lot of damage due to high water and washouts.
Smith estimates that his campground has around $120,000 in damage. He has owned the campground for three years after moving to Iowa from Massachusetts.
“We’re starting to get back on our feet,” Smith said. “We’ll be at 100% pretty soon.”
Smith has been vocal about Culver’s response to the flooding. He called Culver’s efforts “Herculean” with the Lake Delhi area and questioned why the area around Monticello and Hopkinton hasn’t received the same type of attention.
“I don’t understand it. How can he leave these communities twisting in the wind and do so much for (Lake Delhi)?” Smith said.
Culver has made visits to Delaware, Jones and Jackson counties since the flooding, said Angel Albert, deputy press secretary for the governor’s office.
Albert was unsure if Culver had visited Walnut Acres Campground specifically.
“I don’t know if he’s been to the campground,” Albert said. “We’ve had many constituents calling from those areas.”
Smith has been critical of the Lake Delhi Recreation Association for the maintenance of the failed dam. He is considering taking legal action against the association.
“We are talking with a lawyer now and trying to get our ducks in a row before filing anything,” Smith said.
Jim Willey, president of the LDRA, said the lake’s floodgates were scheduled to be replaced one week after the flooding.
“We had unprecedented amounts of water. The facility was never designed for the kind of flooding we had,” Willey said. “(Smith) would have had much of the same issues whether the dam broke or not.
“Lake Delhi is not a reservoir. We can’t hold water back.”