Demolition begins in Pacific Junction two years after historic flood

Most of the 200 homes in the southwest Iowa town will be torn down
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Demolition is underway in one Southwest Iowa town devastated by the historic flood that swept through parts of the Midwest in 2019.

One by one, most of the 200 homes in Pacific Junction will be reduced to rubble and cleared away. “It feels good and it feels bad,” said Pacific Junction Mayor, Andy Young,” noting the teardowns are tough to watch but are a sign of better days ahead.

“When you see buildings start coming down then you’re seeing closure and we have to have that to move forward,” said Young.

The majority of homeowners opted for a FEMA buyout, meaning the empty lots can not be rebuilt on, and the property tax revenue they generated is gone.

“It’s going to be tough you know but we have to just get through the next couple of years,” said Young.

In an effort to bring back more people the town purchased about 30 properties and those can be rebuilt on. “We have people that are interested in coming back and buying lots,” said Young.

Offering hope to people like Kim O’Connor. She grew up in the railroad town and has seen the ups and downs.

“The town was booming we had businesses, and then when the railroad pulled out we saw what it was like when everybody left,” said O’Connor, describing those post-railroad days as similar to these days, post-flood.

“We had a lot of derelict properties and abandon properties, but times changed and we stuck it out and we got to the point where we were prepared for growth again,” said O’Connor.

The town aiming to turn the lots left empty, into another comeback.

“We’ve had people come to us and some have been interested in putting orchards in. We’ve had people come to us about planting wildflowers and seeds in,” said Young. “So it might work out pretty good for us when it’s all said and done.”

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