HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 27, 2007, Herald Journal

Flood waters in our own backyard


Having seen first-hand the damage left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I’m seeing all too familiar similarities with that and the recent flooding in southern Minnesota.

In a preliminary survey done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 4,200 homes have been affected by the flooding.

“Affected” by the flooding could mean a large array of damage from the slightest water in the basement to a complete loss of structure.

As of Wednesday, there was 256 complete losses, 338 homes with major damage, and 475 still inaccessible, according to the Star Tribune.

Either way, these residents are going to need a temporary place to live, as well as help rebuilding.

Many didn’t have flood insurance, and depending on the amount of financial assistance from FEMA, those with significant damage could be up a creek without a paddle.

That’s where people like you and me come in. Like the hurricane victims, our fellow Minnesotans are going to need similar tender loving care in the form of volunteer work.

That’s what makes this situation a bit ironic for me.

Two years ago, when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, some selfish individuals couldn’t (or wouldn’t) understand why Minnesotans would go all the way down to Mississippi to help with the cleanup effort.

They didn’t understand why these people couldn’t just take care of themselves; implying they were too lazy to gut and rebuild their own homes.

What they didn’t understand was that everything takes money, extra hands, and time. If they didn’t have flood insurance, which many of the hurricane victims didn’t, it was quite an expensive misfortune.

Now, it’s happening in our own backyard. We have people living in the beautiful bluffs of southeastern Minnesota who have literally been washed away, in some cases.

Many didn’t have flood insurance. Even if they wanted it, they couldn’t have gotten it since they weren’t at risk for flood waters.

Although not to the extent of Katrina, the process will be quite similar.

Pretty soon, FEMA trailers will be distributed, cleanup will begin, and homes will be gutted.

Four days after the flooding, residents of southeastern Minnesota are already becoming impatient with FEMA. They want to get back into their homes, but without clean water, and working sewer, residents are advised to stay away.

They want into their homes, they want to collect whatever is left to salvage, they want to begin the cleanup.

Also, one has to remember, homeowners aren’t the only ones affected.

Business owners have also been hit, forcing them to close shop for however long the clean up and repairs take.

A lot of it will be waiting – waiting for money, waiting for help, waiting for results.

But no matter how long it takes, we must remember things take time, money, and help from others.