I’ve been covering the Northland flash flood of 2012 (as it’s officially been dubbed) for almost six months now. In that time I’ve seen a lot of ruined homes and tears shed. But I’ve also seen an incredible sense of resolve and can-do spirit across the region. I hadn’t seen much hopelessness, until I traveled to Moose Lake in early December and met Linda Berg.
With her mail piled up in front of her and sections of her home’s siding decaying, Linda Berg spends a few quiet moments by herself on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at her home in Moose Lake, Minn…Berg has moved out of the house she has lived in for more than 50 years after it was almost totally destroyed in flooding from nearby Moosehorn Lake. Now living in an apartment, Berg says she can’t stand to give up the address so she returns each day to collect mail and make sure the “two wilder cats” have food, water and a working warming pad.
Photographer Derek Montgomery and I had finished interviewing Berg and touring her flood-destroyed house. We were getting in the car, when I noticed her sitting in a lawn chair in her garage. It was freezing, a major storm was blowing in. But like she’s been doing every day since she had to leave her home, she’s returned to “spend some time with an old friend,” as she described it. The 65-year-old has lived in this house for the past half century.
What was tough about our conversation with Ms. Berg was her sense of hopelessness, that she couldn’t afford to fix the house she loved. And maybe she can’t. But she hasn’t asked for any help, she hasn’t filled out any of the applications needed to get her in the pipeline for possible assistance from state, federal and private resources.
While aid has been slow to get to some places hard hit by the flood, including Carlton County, millions of dollars in help has been disbursed, and officials are optimistic many more will be sent out in the next several months. They know there are people out there like Linda Berg, people who still need help. They just need them to ask for it.
Based in Duluth, Dan Kraker covers the Arrowhead region for Minnesota Public Radio News