flood { Rushford, MN - 1 week later

On our way back from Lacrosse today I decided I had to see Rushford for myself. Not because I am a disaster junkie or anything like that, but because I needed to see something that has left a permanent mark on the history of this area. To see and remember.

Rushford is 10 miles off I-90. When you exit, you're surrounded by lush, rolling farmland. As you get closer to Rushford, you start descending from the plateau down into a deep river valley. As you hit the outskirts of town, you start noticing the damage, some houses with carpets outside, a fine layer of mud or silt on the road, but you're still quite a ways up and out of town. As you turn the corner and start entering the downtown district its like entering a different world. Everything is affected. The ground has a layer of silt, quite deep in places. Water level marks on houses, vehicles, trees, crops, anything shows that the water was at least 4' deep and it appears to have been 6' deep in areas. School buses parked in front of a mechanic shop had water marks up to half-way through their windshields, which is 2/3 of the way up the bus. Whole houses and businesses have been completely gutted, the contents laying on the street in large piles. A barn on the edge of town had one corner of its foundation washed out. A corn crop south of town appears to have been completely underwater. People looking wiped out physically and emotionally take breaks next to heaps of their belongings. I didn't bring a camera with and even if I did, I probably would not have taken pictures. Things here were personal. Power was in the form of generators and where the power lines could be patched in (some power line appear to have fallen). Sanitation was port-a-potties in neighborhoods.

I wept.

Monday I am going to see if work has volunteer efforts to go and help with the clean up.


Anonymous said...

I teach at Eagan High School. Tomorrow (8/31) I will travel there with 6 of my colleagues to spend the day in Rushford helping with clean up. We will arrive with a truckload of construction and cleaning supplies and about $2000 in cash donations from our staff and school organizations. I will try to post comments and observations after I return.

GeistX said...

I wish you and your colleagues luck. I'm sad to say though after seeing the devestation $2000 will not go far, nor will the $28000 from FEMA. But every little bit helps.

I'm hoping the scene looks better than when I went through there. Entire households piled in garbage piles in the streets. Homes and businesses gutted. Tired, drained, mud-covered people wandering around like zombies from exhaustion.

Even two weeks out, my heart still aches for what's happened.

Anonymous said...

The Eagan HS group delivered sheetrock, insulation, and other building supplies to the homes of 2 teachers and 1 custodian. The teachers homes were quite nice, but obviously really messed up and completely emptied of all belongings except bathtubs and a few ceiling light fixtures. They needed to replace all of the sheetrock in their basements, and about the bottom 30" of sheetrock in their main level. The home of the custodian was much more modest, and also damaged much more. He needed to replace even the ceilings on the main level of his home. We left about 2/3 of our building supplies at this home. He was very moved, and was crying when we left.

We also did extensive powerwashing in the basement of one home. While we were there, two elderly chaplains walked up to the lady of the house and kindly said they were there to offer her "comfort & encouragement." She smiled at them and pointed to the basement where we were working and replied, "Go downstairs & see the comfort and encouragement I got today!" WOW!!!

With that said, I think we offered much more than the $2000 in supplies that we brought; we offered hope to 4 households.

I suspect we saw a Rushford that was several stages later in the recovery process than what you saw. Folks were still tired and mudded, but they were beginning to find humor in their day - despite the bleak outlook. The human spirit is amazingling strong!

GeistX said...

Thank you Anonymous for sharing your experiences. I'm happy to see hope is starting to return to Rushford. It also brings me hope to see how people can help one another in their hour of need.