Iowa Town Facing Bleak Future Three Years After Flooding
1993, 2008 and 2016. Three of the most memorably devastating flood events in Cedar Rapids history, and obviously, that second one was a disaster for the record books. We know the stats. A Cedar River crest of 31.12 feet. 10 square miles of the City of Cedar Rapids underwater. Property and homes lost, never to return. Devastating damage, but in other ways, the city was able to recover.
The same can't be said for Pacific Junction, in southwest Iowa, which in 2019, already had a small but proud population of 475. A town like that gets decimated by what happened three years ago, as 200 square miles of levees breached on either side of it in Nebraska and Iowa as well as Kansas. The town now holds a population of fewer than 100 people and its very existence is in jeopardy. 92 homes are still on the chopping block as a result of federal buyouts, but townspeople are clinging to hope it can re-emerge. The town's mayor Andy Young is one of them, telling Omaha TV station KETV:
I don’t think we’ll ever be as big as what we were before. But even if we get, you know, over half of where we were, that’s a pretty good accomplishment
Money from FEMA will help their recovery effort, but with the stipulation that a new home cannot be built on the land occupied by one torn down due to flooding, it's difficult to see how many people will want to move forward in Pacific Junction.
Most of the elements of Pacific Junction's story are relatable to us, but their ability to press on to the extent Cedar Rapids has remains in question. We wish them all the best.