Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part VI: The future for Hammond and Tina March 19, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post marks the final in a series of six stories that focus on a Hammond, Minnesota, family forced from their home during a September 2010 flash flood. Today we look at Hammond, its recovery and how you can help.

“WE HAVE A LONG ROAD ahead of us and none of it can really start until spring,” says Tina Marlowe, assessing the work that still needs to be done in Hammond. Her family returned to this town of (once) 230 residents shortly after Christmas.

This southeastern Minnesota community exists in limbo as residents await the arrival of warmer weather, and money, to begin rebuilding their community. Many homes must be gutted and rebuilt or torn down. Hammond needs a new city hall and new maintenance equipment. The river bank, river bed, parks and canoe landing need to be cleaned and rebuilt.

“Everything…everything is left to be done,” says Tina, who plans to help form a park committee that will raise $200,000 to update and rebuild the town’s parks. Tubing, canoeing, a horseshoe tournament, camping, fishing, motorcycling and more draw locals and visitors to this quiet river valley, “a beautiful gift of nature that we like to call ‘Our Valley’,” Tina says.

She and good friend Katie Shones will be setting up a Park Fund for donations to rebuild the parks.

 

Hammond's riverside park was all but destroyed by the flood. Marks on the shelter roof show how high the water rose. A baseball field next to the shelter, with a fence around it, is covered by receding floodwaters. Jenny Hoffman took this photo at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 25, 2010.

HOW YOU CAN HELP?

“SINCE OCTOBER, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has been very involved in the long-term recovery efforts in the Pine Island – Oronoco area and in Wabasha County,” says Caitlin Hughes, LSS Disaster Services administrative specialist.  “LSSMN assisted in the development of two community supported long-term recovery committees. These committees are working with the LSSMN Southeast Minnesota Disaster Response Team to help families locate the precious resources to rebuild their homes and their lives.  Presently LSSMN has a local staff of three disaster case managers, a volunteer and resource coordinator and a reconstruction manager.

Currently, the disaster case managers are working with over 250 families/ individuals and the rebuild team is assisting 25 clients in using volunteers to make their homes habitable once again.”

St. John’s Lutheran Church is serving as a base for LSS relief operations in Hammond. Contact LSS caseworker Mary Walker at 507-753-3057 business days. St. John’s has served, among other functions, as a site for distribution of food, clothing and other essentials to flood survivors.

INDIVIDUALS INTERESTED in helping with Hammond’s recovery should contact LSS Volunteer Coordinator Dan Kalstabakken at 651-741-7234.

Go to this link for the most up-to-date information on LSS efforts in southeastern Minnesota: http://www.lssmn.org/disaster/

Also visit the Zumbro Valley Disaster Relief Fund.

Tina says flood survivors could use cash donations and that skilled laborers are still needed to help with the ongoing rebuilding efforts.

HELPING THE CHILDREN

LSS also provides support for children who have been through disasters like the Hammond flood.

Camp Noah is a day camp for children impacted by disaster that offers children a safe, caring and fun environment where they can heal and process their disaster experience, according to LSS. The five-day camp is based on a curriculum that celebrates each child’s unique gifts and talents and provides them with an opportunity to share their story.

For more information about Camp Noah, call 612-879-5312 or go to http://www.lssmn.org/camp_noah/

 

This photo shows the destroyed road that goes from Wabasha County Road 11 to the business area on the east side of Hammond. A bar, bank, cafe, city hall and homes are located along this street. Waters are receding in this photo taken mid-morning on Saturday, September 25, 2010. All of the businesses, city hall and most homes along this road were flooded.

THE FUTURE FOR TINA

Tina and her fiancé, Micheal Mann, are planning a June 25 wedding. The bride will wear the wedding dress she saved from the floodwaters.

“I don’t know how we will get the wedding paid for now…it certainly won’t be all that I planned it to be,” Tina says.

But, despite the financial hardship, the setbacks, the challenges, this determined woman wants to move forward. And that means proceeding with the wedding as planned. Her wedding will give people a break, a reason to “take one night to celebrate all that is real in this life: friends, family and love.”

THIS CONCLUDES my six-part series of stories told through the voice of Hammond flood survivor Tina Marlowe. Thank you, Tina, for the privilege of sharing your story. I admire your strength, your determination and your resiliency.

Thanks also to Katie Shones, who has been my main contact in Hammond since last October. She is one strong, kind woman.

Thanks, too, to Susie Buck for pulling together the many photos featured in this series and to those who allowed their images to be published here.

Sheri Ryan, I am grateful to you also for the use of your photos, but, more importantly, for a deeply personal look at how this flood affected your mom. All too often we view blurs of faces and piles of debris, but we fail to see beyond, to the real hurt that runs deep.

I appreciate every one of you who have so willingly worked with me to tell the story of the people of Hammond through words and photos.

I also appreciate volunteers like Gary Schmidt from the Twin Cities who worked with a Woodbury church to bring volunteers to Hammond in late January and then again one day in March. Gary learned of the need through this blog. I hope to share Gary’s experiences with you in a future post.

I am grateful also to the folks over at Minnesota Public Radio who have plugged my flood series online. In the “Minnesota Today” section, Michael Olson included a reference to my stories in his March 16 statewide blog round-up. My post, “She just wants to hug her house,” was also featured in MPR’S “Blog Box.”

MPR columnist Bob Collins summarized my series and linked to my blog in the “5×8″ section of his March 18 “News Cut” column. Bob also publicized my first set of flood stories back in October 2010, when I toured Hammond and Zumbro Falls about two weeks after the flash flood. Thank you, MPR, for helping Hammond’s story reach an even wider audience.

It is my hope, Minnesota Prairie Roots readers, that the flood stories I’ve shared with you this week will touch you. I hope you will be moved to help the residents of Hammond recover from a flood that may have damaged their homes, but has not destroyed their spirits.

These are strong, strong people who continue to need our support, our prayers and our help even six months after the flood.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Part V: Help after the Hammond flood March 18, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Minnesotans help one another. So when Tina Marlowe and her family needed assistance after a devastating autumn 2010 flash flood severely damaged their Hammond, Minnesota, home, volunteers were there to assist.

Today, in this fifth in a series of stories, read about the people who helped Tina’s family and the gratitude she feels toward them.

 

John Bemmert took this photo from the front deck of his house. It shows his flooded yard within the fence, his neighbor's house to the left and his father-in-law's yard on the right. This image was taken on the afternoon of Friday, September 24, 2010.

Floodwaters approach the home of John Bemmert in this photo he took the afternoon of Friday, September 24, 2010. He was one of the lucky ones. The water rose only to the base of the skirting on his home.

WITH A FLOODED basement and several inches of water on the main level, Tina, her fiancé, two children and future in-laws were forced from their home. When the floodwaters receded, volunteers pitched in to help the family move their belongings and gut their home.

The Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club immediately dispatched a crew to move furniture, clean the basement, and rip out flooring and drywall. A retired couple from the Rushford area, Sentence-to-Serve members and others helped the family. The Rochester Med City Crew MC treated the family to a Thanksgiving dinner.

“I am grateful they took care of us with such dignity and respect,” Tina says of all who assisted them.

Once their house was emptied and dried out, they immediately began the process of rebuilding.

NO FLOOD INSURANCE, BUT HELP CAME

Without flood insurance on their home which lies in the 500-year flood plain, Tina and her family depended on others and sought out programs that could assist them. They accepted a Quickstart Grant, shopped around, made good choices and spent money as wisely as they could to stretch it as far as they could, Tina says.

They also tapped into Cathy Mann’s retirement fund to buy appliances.

Yet, there is nothing to pay for replacing their personal belongings.

In the spirit of giving, people have pitched in—a grant from Tina’s company to help pay hotel bills; co-workers donating money and holding a bake sale and chili feed to cover hotel and food costs; the Plainview-Elgin-Millville School District, through a drive, provided clothes, bedding, other essentials and cash; and a cash donation from Cathy Mann’s (Tina’s future mother-in-law) co-workers helped pay hotel bills.

Through Lion’s Club, Eagles Club, church group and individual donations to the Zumbro Valley Disaster Relief Fund, the family received intermittent assistance with gas and grocery cards.

“The amount of help we received from the community is unbelievable and is something every Minnesotan can, and should, be proud of,” Tina says.

 

The floodwaters had receded when John Bemmert took this photo on the morning of Saturday, September 25, 2010. It shows the intersection of Wabasha County Road 11 and Second Avenue. The flood tore out the wooden fence. A waterline is visible on the house.

Susie Buck took this photo as floodwater from storm sewers began backing up from the street into her yard before 8 a.m. on Friday, September 24, 2010. Motorists had to drive through her yard to get out of town on the west side of the Zumbro River in Hammond.

PLEASE JOIN MINNESOTA PRAIRIE ROOTS for one last visit with Tina Marlowe as she tells us what remains to be done in Hammond and how you can help.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos Copyright 2011 by Susie Buck & John Bemmert

 

 
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