Preserving Palo... Flood Victims Rebuild

By Claire Kellett, Anchor/Reporter


By Becky Ogann

PALO - The town of Palo is now in a pick-up mode. People there are gearing up for a massive clean up effort this weekend. But volunteers aren't waiting to do away with the debris.

Preserving's the town's new slogan.

"We're building momentum, preserving Palo, we are going to overcome this disaster we will rebuild," said Kevin Unde, volunteer coordinator.

But before rebuilding, flood victims have to haul out almost everything inside their homes. It's a task that takes help from local people as well as out of state strangers. Workers, like Tessa Ocke, came from the east coast.

"It's kind of overwhelming, don't believe it's true," said Ocke.

Ocke is part of the Hands on Disaster Response Group. Her traveling team knocks on doors looking for dirty work. By day's end, they're head to toe in mud, but the college graduate says she doesn't mind the mess.

"The best part is meeting the people, hearing their stories, they're so grateful and thankful," said Ocke.

One of those thankful townspeople is Gerald Oellrich, 74. He lives alone and can't clean his own house.

"They don't want me in there because I cut my thumb the first day," said Oellrich.

In two days, these volunteers from as far away as New York brought out all this debris from Oellrich's home. Their goal is to get back Palo back to pre-flood status for people like Oellrich.

"Everyone is friendly, just good little town, I loved this place," said Oellrich.

He hopes with everyone's help Palo can be preserved.

Anyone available to clean up on Saturday should go to the Viola Gibson Elementary School for an assignment. Volunteers who can help before then should call 319-350-2684.

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