Iowa : Safety by City
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- West Des Moines
Clarinda, Iowa, is the quintessential small town you’d expect to see in Iowa where everyone knows everyone and some family names date back five generations.
It’s on the southwest side of the state, just 15 minutes from the Missouri border.
My research for Clarinda has made me pine for small-town life while at the same time scaring the bejeezus out of me.
Every sweetest small town has its own ghost stories or haunted past.
The big band musician Glenn Miller was born here, and there’s a museum in his honor and a yearly festival to celebrate his legacy.
There’s also the Clarina Carnegie Art Museum, bringing some modern art to this town that’s frozen in time.
Baseball fans will love Clarinda for its amateur baseball team, which might as well be the Oakland A’s for how popular they are here.
This team has been playing since 1955 and was the first professional team to give a chance to a young shortstop named Ozzie Smith.
Smith went on to become a Hall of Famer after a storied career, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was dubbed “The Wizard of Ozz.”
The rich architecture of the downtown area still stands as it has since 1851.
It’s named after a woman named Clarinda Buck, but after that, the story goes somewhere between folklore and guesswork.
Warnings & Dangers in Clarinda
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in this town of 5,400 people. If someone did commit a heinous crime, there's a good chance the whole town would know about it because it's just that kind of place where everyone knows everyone.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You are going to need a car here or really strong bicycle legs. There isn't public transportation and calling a cab or rideshare is going to be challenging. There's a low risk of finding a way to get around if you don't take it there yourself.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with a theft rate almost half the national average. While you never want to let your guard down, there's more of a chance someone will help you find something you lost than take it from you.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a year-long weather risk here from tornadoes to flash flooding to winter storms. You should be prepared for medium risk and plan your escape route or safe place from a storm before you travel.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were no robberies in the past two years, so you can't get much safer than that! There has been an increase in drug crimes, which can lead to more robberies. So far, that trend hasn't caught on.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here. The city has no military bases, large population base, or even a Wal-Mart nearby. (You have to go to Shenandoah to get to the Wal-Mart Super Center.)
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scams here are via phone or email from people who don't live here, so a tourist can rest assured there's a low risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
This is a low-risk area for a woman to visit. There was one sexual assault reported in 2021, and three in 2020. The area is very friendly to newcomers. You will likely be asked a lot of personal questions because that's just how small-town people are, but always be careful with how much information you share.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
In one of the most succinct water quality reports I've ever read, I can tell you there's a low risk in the tap water of Clarinda. It meets or exceeds all requirements.
Safest Places to Visit in Clarinda
There are a handful of hotels in Clarinda, but you should check out the Celebrity Inn as an option.
This is a hotel with a log cabin motif, genuine cedar furnishings, and an exterior that looks like you’re pulling into a 1960s gas station.
Stop by the Clarinda Chamber of Commerce and pick up a map for a self-guided walking tour of historical spots in town.
You can also go to the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum and tour the facility before walking through the city.
The Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum is open for tours and you can learn about the musical legend who got his humble start in Clarina.
Miller’s childhood home is also located here after his daughter purchased and restored it in the 1980s.
For more music history, head 20 miles west and see the Everly Brothers Childhood Home.
The Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum is a dream come true for a local couple who couldn’t bear to see the local library sold off and torn down.
Karen & Robert Duncan made sure there’s now a space for children and adults to enjoy modern and contemporary art with the prestigious Carnegie name on it.
If you’re visiting during the baseball season, catch a game by the Clarinda A’s.
You can buy a team t-shirt on Main Street and then cheer the team on.
Main Street is also where a bunch of events happen throughout the year, so check the calendar before you come to see what’s happening.
Places to Avoid in Clarinda
If we have to nail down a side of town that’s more dangerous, it would be the north side coming in with slightly higher crime rates than the south side.
However, there’s not a place you need to avoid in the city.
It’s a small town with easy-to-navigate streets.
If you hit a cornfield, you’ve gone too far and should turn around.
North of town there’s a state correctional facility and a large, ominous building right next to it.
That building reminds me of the asylum from the movie “Shutter Island.”
Much like the movie, this building was once the Clarinda State Hospital that took care of the mentally insane and was listed as one of a handful of insane asylums in the state.
It went on to become a treatment facility.
The building closed in 2015.
A few rooms are being used by the prison and a nearby treatment facility, but a large part of it stays open and is rumored to be haunted.
There is also a nearby CTC (Clarinda Treatment Center) cemetery with tombstones of the people who passed away while they were there.
Unless you have a reason to visit the cemetery, you should avoid it and the hospital.
There aren’t tours available at the old hospital and it’s right next to a prison.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Clarinda
- To contact the police department, “Emergency calls use 911. Non-Emergency calls dial 712-542-2194. Police Chief: Keith Brothers.” That’s all the information you’ll find on the police department from the city’s website. There is a Facebook page for the police. Simple search “Clarinda Iowa Police Department” for more updated policy information.
- Actually, the police there make a good point in one of their posts, saying you should avoid posting photos of your vacation while you’re on vacation. It can let thieves know you are away from home. That’s a great point!
- If you are from a country or culture that doesn’t talk a lot or ask a lot of questions of strangers, you’re going to get a crash course in “Iowa Friendly” when you visit here. People in small towns love to talk, stop you on the street and get to know you, or walk over and introduce themselves at restaurants. Just be kind, even if it’s not what you’re used to. I once went to a new church in a small town in the South. The pastor’s wife held my hand during the ENTIRE service. I just went with it as it seemed to make her happy.
- If you want to get some exercise with the kids, but are running out of things to do in this small town, check out the Story Walk near downtown and City Park. This is a trail that tells a story as you go, so you can read, run, and relax in the great outdoors. It’s a great way to burn some energy after a home-cooked Iowa meal too.
- Alert Iowa is the emergency notification system used in communities across the state. You can sign up through the Page County, Iowa, website and select which notifications you’d like to get. This is a great way to stay ahead of storms that can happen any time of year.
- You should check your mobile provider’s service map to see how much coverage you’ll be getting in this part of Iowa. 5G is going to be hard to come by, but there should be a lot of 4G coverage in the city. It might be more challenging to get a signal on the rural roads.
- It’s not going to be uncommon to share the road with a tractor or other piece of farm equipment. The farmer will not motion for you to pass or help you in any way, as they are trying to control a massive piece of machinery. It’s up to you to use safety precautions when passing and give plenty of room to pull in front of the tractor. Don’t cut them off.
- The Page County Emergency Management Agency Website has a list of the river gauges in the area. It’s important to know if a river is close to cresting if you’re driving nearby. This is also great information to have if you are going to be fishing while you’re here.
- You will need a license to fish through the Department of Natural Resources. You can’t use a license from your home city or state. Be sure to purchase a non-resident license.
- I’m chuckling as I write this because there’s a social media thread on the Clarinda Police Department Facebook page that reminds people to stop at stop signs. Fully stop. All the way. Don’t roll through it or slow down without stopping. That’s the serious part. The funny part is the comments that the post incited. My favorite is, “Clarinda people? Why y’all in such a hurry lol calm yourself.”
So... How Safe Is Clarinda Really?
This is a really safe, tight-knit community where people apparently run a lot of stop signs.
Seriously, though, the crime rates are lower than the national average.
Violent crime is slightly above the state average, but it’s hard to think that 10 violent crimes mean a city is more dangerous than the state average.
That’s an effect of the FBI standard of tabulating crime “by 100,000 people.”
10 violent crimes in a city of 5,369 equal 186 crimes per 100,000 people.
It is only *slightly above the state average and for the most part, crimes were down in 2021.
Except for ” intimidation.”
That was up a staggering 1000%.
Intimidation is described as “To unlawfully place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack.”
Did I mention this is a conservative and Christian area?
It’s best not to argue about politics or religion here.
How Does Clarinda Compare?
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- Visas - A U.S. Visa takes up to four months of processing time, so follow every step closer and you'll beat the deadline. You will need to provide social media account information from the past five years and do a face-to-face interview. You will use your Visa to get through Customs at the airport, but you won't need it to eat a ham steak for dinner at a Clarinda restaurant.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar in Clarinda and all of Iowa. Be sure to exchange currency at the airport, because you won't be able to do so in Clarinda.
- Weather - Winter will require heavy, warm clothing because it can get cold and snowy. The wind chill is the worst part of winter, as the winds can make the temperatures feel much colder than the air temperature. Spring and fall can vary in temperature, and spring brings a lot of rain, so bring layers of clothing and a rain jacket. Summers are going to be muggy, but you'll love the evening breezes and lightning bugs while walking around town. Bring good walking shoes because you'll be on your feet a lot.
- Airports - The closest airport is Eppley Field in Omaha. That's about 90 minutes away. If you are flying in and out of Omaha, you'll need to plan for a two-hour drive.
- Travel Insurance - Definitely look at travel insurance plans and get a policy that protects your time in the air and on the roads.
Clarinda Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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