A few weeks ago, we sent out some surveys to people who were victims of last fall’s floods in southeast Minnesota. They have, for the most part, played second fiddle in our state’s consciousness to the I-35W bridge collapse.
This is the story, in their own words, of Crystal and Colin Schroeder of Rushford.
We were luckier than many. My three young children, husband, and I were not home for the flood. We were out of town. When my husband finally reached our house, he found that the water came 2″ onto the floor joists of the basement ceiling — 3″ from our main floor.
We stored everything down there — Christmas decorations, winter clothes, outerwear, my teaching materials, and all our family heirlooms to name a few.
Our children had a playroom downstairs filled with toys, futon, TV, VCR, DVD player, both children and grown-up books (many collectible series). My husband had thousands of dollars worth of auto body-related tools ruined in the four feet of water in the garage.
We got back into our home September 3, after two long weeks of working on the house all day and driving back and forth to Minneapolis and Winona, where we had relatives, late at night. My husband took several weeks off of work and has done most of the work on the house on his own, due to expenses. We thought we were ready to move on and put the worst behind us. Two weeks after we’d cleaned up and moved in, we realized we had to tear the chimney out because the sewage had penetrated the bricks and wasn’t leaving. The entire house smelled of raw sewage.
Once again, we thought we could begin painting and finish work. We were horrified in January when we found that the header in the basement, as well as the support columns are all cracking deeply due to being submerged for so long and then drying out. The house now needs to be jacked up, header beam reinforced, support columns replaced, and new footings poured. The foundation needs to be cleaned off, tuckpointed, and resealed. The basement windows need to be replaced as well as the garage doors and siding.
We’re surviving, we’ve gotten a lot of help from the Salvation Army, a local church program, and an amazing immediate and unconditional outpouring of support from friends, families, and co-workers. We have five houses within view from our front steps that have been torn down, another five or so that had to have brand new foundations put in.
The largest struggle is the emotional exhaustion, because you still have to work in a world that is “normal,” take care of your family, work on your house, pay bills, and live in a world that seems to be falling apart. One of the hardest things we’ve had to deal with is people outside of town thinking we (and the town) are OK and “back to normal.” No one realizes how bad it is to see everyone struggle so very much. We have a neighbor who isn’t back in his house yet. Every day you turn around and something else has gone wrong; things we’d never even thought about.
The last thing I’d like to add was my 7 year old son’s response when we told him about the flood (about a week after it happened, my aunt and uncle cared for our children for two weeks after the flood so we could clean up). He cried and screamed. But not for himself. He was crying for all the children that had lost everything they had. He wanted to set a bucket on our stairs to raise money for them. When they went back to my aunt and uncle’s house, that’s just what they did. They made a sign “Help Rushford, they had a big flood” and went door to door in their Plymouth neighborhood. They collected $209 to buy toys for local children. That is the some of the love and caring we have seen down here.