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'It’s tough to look back': 3 Years after historic flood, Pacific Junction, Iowa continues to rebuild

Little town lost more than 75% of its population
Posted at 6:52 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:52:47-04

PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa (KMTV) — Thursday marks the third anniversary of the levees in Mills County failing, leading to the flooding and virtual destruction of the town of Pacific Junction, Iowa.

The town has gone from around 470 residents to less than 100, but still, those who came back are continuing to rebuild the only place they call home.

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since the town of Pacific Junction was covered in water from the 2019 floods. Mayor Andy Young has said it’s been a blur since and it has felt like five or six years.

“Everything that you go through, it’s tough to look back and wonder how you got to this point,” said Young.

Downtown Pacific Junction is a desolate place. The U.S. Postal Service moved out. City hall is still advertising a fish fry scheduled for a day before the town was flooded. A few cars pass by as a kid’s toy car sits next to the street.

The people who remain in town aren’t going anywhere.

“A good group of the people that are back are fourth, fifth generations, you know, their grandparents graduated from here so you know, it’s our roots,” said Young.

Mayor Young wears a lot of hats. When he’s not signing papers in a makeshift city hall, he’s helping out a neighbor or doing infrastructure improvements ensuring residents have running water.

“It’s tough to really commit to something outside of the town,” said Young.

Some folks have already rebuilt homes in the city. Most of the town’s destroyed homes have been demolished and the city plans to soon sell around 50 lots, in which there may be an interest.

“We got a lot of people that are wanting lots,” said Young.

Young says if those get filled, the town formerly of 471 people will have more than 200 residents.

“If we get those sold and people build on them, then we’ll have, we’ll be a little over half of what we were before,” said Young.

Once that’s done, Young would then eye street repairs, as many roads were damaged in 2019.

“There’s no sense in fixing them until the heavy equipment and everything is off of them,” said Young.

And while some may wonder about another flood coming back and wreaking havoc on Pacific Junction once again, Young and other residents aren’t worried.

“It’s that once in 500-year flood, you know, because out the town’s been here 168 years and it’s never had water from the Missouri River in it,” said Young.

The city is also awaiting certification from the federal government on the nearby levee. That would allow residents to purchase flood insurance and ideally attract more people to move to Pacific Junction.

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