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Newscast 6.27.2024: More Siouxland residents return home as flooding wanes; Iowa Supreme Court abortion ruling coming on Friday; Perry, Iowa people readying for life after Tyson plant closure

Heavy rains have caused problems in the region, including some flooding.
Heavy rains have caused problems in the region, including some flooding.

Extensive flooding continues to deliver major impacts in Siouxland.

For days, people have been flooded out of homes in such places as Correctionville, Spencer, Rock Valley, and Hawarden in Northwest Iowa, plus North Sioux City in South Dakota.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds returned to heavily flooded Rock Valley on Thursday for the second time this week, this time with Federal Emergency Management Administration Administrator Deanne Criswell. They also walked through Cherokee and Spencer, and all three towns were heavily damaged after rivers poured over their banks.

Additionally, a Thursday press release from Dakota Dunes said residents who voluntarily evacuated could return to their homes in the afternoon. Some live close to the Missouri River, which has dropped from 32.2 feet to 29 feet since Monday.

President Joe Biden has approved a Federal Disaster Declaration for five counties, Clay, Emmet, Lyon, Plymouth, and Sioux, although Reynolds wants more to be added. The governor’s expedited request to the federal governor originally included 22 counties and nine for individual assistance.

Additionally, as some areas of Iowa continue to experience high flood waters, some communities are in recovery and clean-up mode. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources in a Thursday release encouraged people to put safety first and avoid flood waters until after they recede.

The IDNR said many rivers and lakes in Iowa are unsafe for swimming or boating due to fast currents, floating debris, hidden obstacles, and the potential of bacteria.

Several Iowa state parks have alerts and closures due to high waters, including one in Sioux City, as the west entrance of Stone State Park is currently closed while park staff clean up debris, although the east entrance is open. The Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center within the park will reopen on Friday.

A bigger situation to monitor is in Dickinson County in the Iowa Great Lakes, where several state park beaches, docks and ramps are still underwater. A no-wake boat speed limit of 5 mph has been in effect since June 17 for Dickinson County lakes.

Gull Point Park and its campground are closed.

Existing campground reservations at Emerson Bay, Elinor Bedell, and Marble Beach are being honored, but new reservations or walk-in camping are unavailable through at least July 7.

All other parks in the Okoboji lakes region remain open, but caution is advised.

Additionally, the Iowa Supreme Court is expected to rule Friday morning on a case that will determine the fate of a state law banning abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion in Iowa is currently legal for up to 20 weeks.

The law at the center of the case would ban abortion when cardiac activity is detected. This is before many people know they’re pregnant.It’s the second time Republican lawmakers have tried to enact a so-called fetal heartbeat law.

The first law was permanently blocked by a deadlocked Iowa Supreme Court last year. Governor Kim Reynolds responded by calling a special session in July 2023, where lawmakers passed a nearly identical law, which is the version upon which the court is set to rule on Friday.

In other news, Tyson Foods is closing its pork processing plant in Perry, Iowa, on Friday.

It's been a tough year for Perry. The plant closure decision came on top of a school shooting in January that left three dead and injured six others.

Community leaders are trying to make it easier for workers and their families to stay in the community of 8,000 people, after the largest employer in town closing up.

“We are set up to handle this better than in previous years. The City of Perry, unfortunately, has had a history of rugs being pulled out.”

Shortly after the news broke about Tyson, a group coalesced to figure out next steps, representing city, county and state officials as well as local businesses and community leaders.

Chris Cohea is Perry’s marketing and engagement coordinator.

“We just knew we needed to act immediately, and we needed to have a strong coalition behind that movement. It couldn’t just be splintered groups doing their own thing. It needed to be a concerted effort,” said Cohea.

They formed a coalition called Perry Next.

Jody Wells sits under a picnic shelter wearing a polo with “United Food and Commercial Workers International” stitched on the front. She's worked at the Tyson plant for nearly three decades, first on the floor operating a band saw and then as a secretary and treasurer for the union.

On March 11, Wells said she was called into the Tyson cafeteria.

“Everybody walked in there happy, joking around, laughing, and Tyson handed us a piece of paper that said they were closing,” said Wells.

Wells said some workers may go to one of Tyson’s other packing plants in Iowa. But a slew of Tyson closures in other states makes her wary.

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