From time to time, I work with my father-in-law, who is a contractor in the southwest Iowa area. Whenever he needs a little extra manpower, I’ll jump in and lend a hand.
With all the recent flooding in the area that’s left parts of Iowa completely underwater, he’s been very busy. One of his recent jobs that I helped him on inspired me to write on what it costs to rehab flooded property, Iowa land in specific.
Knowing that the storm was likely going to cause extensive damage to the levees in place on his property, a southwest Iowa farmer called my father-in-law before the river broke the levee. This farmer knew that it was better to be prepared for a bad outcome. As it turned out, the levee ended up breaking and became non-existent after the storm. The damage was far worse than he expected, leaving 40 acres total acres affected, but causing 160 acres to be useless without remediation.
To begin the rehab of his farm, the first step was to build the levee back up where it had breached first. Then, it was on to clear the sand that was sitting on a huge amount of the area. It took our team of two men a total of 263 machine hours, working 12-hour days (9 or 10 hours with a machine). We had one operator pushing/skimming the sand off the top and another loading/hauling the sand back to the river. At an average bucket full (5 cubic yards) and a 5-minute round trip time with the loader, that works out to 6,000 cubic yards.
We ended up moving an enormous amount of sand. 6,000 cubic yards might not sound like a lot, but when you were standing next to the pile, it was huge. That also didn’t take into account the ¾ of the job that was done with the dozer, so it really would’ve worked out roughly to about 24,000 yards of sand.
As soon as we finished the north side of the 160 acres, the farmer was out in the field cultivating to smooth the “crumb trails” left by the dozer and start turning the sand into the soil. He did the same to the south side of those 160 acres, but while we were finishing up, he was getting the ground ready so that he only had to hit the last couple acres where we were working and could plant ASAP.
For situations like these in our area, contractors typically estimate anywhere between $1,000-$1,5000 per affected acre within 500 feet of the body of water that flooded. In this case, rates outside of that 500 feet basically doubled, and the man-hours doubled as well.
Fortunately, after a lot of hard work by the farmer and our team, all acres on his property are now planted, with corn up.