Last spring, nearly every home and business in the town of Palo was buried under flood waters. Now, the roughly 900 residents of the community located just northwest of Cedar Rapids have lost a popular gathering spot. The Palo Community Center was demolished Tuesday. Kris and John Bloodgood have called Palo home for 30 years.
"My husband and I are boy scout leaders and we have had our group meet here for 17 years," Kris said as she watched bulldozers knock down the building’s walls. "We have a lot of fond memories." The city plans to build a new community center that will also act as a shelter – able to withstand an E-F-5 tornado.
"Palo needs to move forward. So, we need to do the right thing for our community and help our community grow," Bloodgood said. Tom Watson, with Palo’s Public Works Department, says several feet of water flooded the community center last June, but the building’s demolition was actually delayed because inspectors discovered asbestos.
"Really, it was beyond our control…FEMA said if you want FEMA to pay for the demolition and build you a new building, you’ll have to follow these guidelines," Watson said. The city plans to build the new community center just outside of town.
"We’re hoping that the center of town will still be the center of town, but maybe the center of activity will change," Watson said. The old community center, that’s now a pile of rubble, sat on a 100-year flood plain. The city will turn the lot into green space.