AKRON, Iowa (KCAU) -After more than 100 days underwater, Highway 48 near Akron Iowa is finally dry, but it remains closed from the damage. The long closure has been tough on everyone in the region.
Last month, the highway was still underwater, so the dryer weather is sparking some hope in business owners who have lost a lot of business over the past 100 days. Customers struggle to make the extra 20-mile detour to get into town.
“I don’t know if some of these downtown businesses can recover from a year-long or more because if we don’t get that highway back before winter we will have flooding again in the spring,” said Janell Lanning, the owner of Chubs County Store.
Last month, the essential road connecting Akron to South Dakota looked like a river. Now that it’s dry, businesses still have no idea how long Highway 48 might be closed.
“It will probably take some of our businesses away,” said Lanning.
“It’s just something that we just have to sit back and wait for everything to get completed,” said Dan Rolfes, the Akron City Administrator.
City officials in Akron said they have little control over when the highway will be fixed since the closure is in South Dakota.
“They are doing everything that they can,” said Rolfes.
South Dakota state officials say they are currently getting bids from contractors for the repairs. They hope work will begin in July and the project will be completed by August. Still it’s a long road to go for struggling businesses in Akron.
“Businesses in a small town work together more so than in a city and so when one business hurts, it effects pretty much the whole community,” said Jennie Roed, president of the Akron Chamber of Commerce.
Both Chubs Country Store and Thorson Drug have reported more than a 30% loss in sales since the closure of the road.
“It’s a drain on all the economies on both sides of the river, because you are not only spending money to stop it from getting into the business, you’re losing traffic so it’s a double bill for a lot of us that live along here,” said Lanning.
Akron businesses are hoping to see a boost in customers over the Fourth of July holiday as the city hosts its 2nd annual community celebration.
The Akron Chamber of Commerce is inviting everyone to come to Akron for the free celebration and help boost these local businesses.