HEARTLAND FLOOD: Pacific Junction residents debate whether to rebuild or move on

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GLENWOOD, Iowa (WOWT) -- Two to four years; that’s how long Mills County representatives said it could take to rebuild the Pacific Junction, Iowa.

It has been six weeks since flooding forced homeowners there to leave their homes. They were allowed to return a couple of weeks ago and see the severe damage.

Wednesday night, they found out whether they can return for good or whether they’ll have to rebuild.

“People want to get back in their homes,” said Fran Parr of Pacific Junction.

The damage done to the 219 homes is profound. Every one is temporarily tagged — some structurally unsafe to step foot in.

“There were some homes that there was some structural damage that was very apparent, visually,” said Larry Hurst, Mills County Emergency Management Director. “Part of the foundation was gone. Part of the wall was sagging in or something like that. Or the house was separated from the house. Those are indications that it might be an unsafe structure.”

With a complete assessment of their houses still pending, residents are unsure if they’ll be able to rebuild at all or if they even want to.

“We want to make smart decisions, and not just rebuild and not have protections,” Parr said.

Residents at Wednesday night’s meeting in Glenwood, IA were told the local levee breach at Pony Creek will be repaired by next week. Two other breaches impacting the town will take longer to fill as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers makes its way north from Hamburg, Iowa.

“That’s going to be a big problem. It’s going to be a big problem,” Parr said.

“It’s everyone that’s west of I-29 right now and south in the county that’s at risk,” Hurst said.

It's a risk a number of life-long Pacific Junction residents may not be willing to take — a never-ending fear that if they re-build, this could all happen again if those levees aren’t secure.

“I’ll be honest. I’m undecided. My husband is probably a little less undecided. He wants to probably get rid of the house,” Parr said.

The county is working on providing temporary housing around Pacific Junction and Glenwood. There was also talk of a future residential buyout from Mills County.