Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

“Very angry” in flood-stricken Hammond October 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:33 PM
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Hammond's damaged city hall is closed and has been moved to St. John's Lutheran Church.


IN HAMMOND, Katie Shones steps onto the pavement, points to the spot only feet from the sidewalk that shows just how close floodwaters came to her home. Even though her house, just across Wabasha County Road 11 from the Zumbro River, escaped the raging waters by mere feet, she’s upset.

“I’m very angry,” Shones says. “Obama needs to get off his butt and declare it a disaster area.”

She contends that if this was the Twin Cities, with 80 percent of the houses affected by the flood like the 80 percent in Hammond, something would be happening.

“First it’s grief, then post traumatic stress and now people are getting angry,” Shones continues, her agitation increasing.

“It’s devastating. Winter’s coming. Where are these people going to live?” She’s worried about her friends and neighbors in this town of some 230.



A flood-damaged home and garage in Hammond.


Shones need only look across or down the street, toward the row of water-damaged businesses or to the heaps of ruined appliances or to the piles of tires or to the lined-up trash containers to understand the devastation.

She’s had enough. She wants help for her community. Now.



Destroyed appliances and more are piled at a collection point along Wabasha County Road 11 in Hammond.




H.C.C. Restaurant & Groceries was flooded by the Zumbro River.



The partially-gutted restaurant interior.



The exposed side of the restaurant/grocery, where a portion of a building once stood. The building lies in a heap now in the street.



The bank in Hammond has temporarily closed.



Trash cans line the street outside the Hammond Bar.



A child's toy lies among the tires and other rubble at a collection point in Hammond.


© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


6 Responses to ““Very angry” in flood-stricken Hammond”

  1. Virgil Says:

    Some powerful and emotional posts on the floods Audrey. Great work!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Virgil. I know so many others have stories that need to be told. Tracy, Jackie, Susie and Katie spoke with honesty and emotion and I appreciate that they were willing to share their feelings, insights and opinions.

  2. Sara Says:

    These are awesome stories! You made everything so detailed and full of emotion! I feel like they shoud all be bound together and sent to our governor because it seems like they are forgetting the damage these floods did, especially to a lot of small towns who don’t have the funding to clean it all up.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for your positive comments re. my flood stories, Sara. I didn’t have to try hard to fill these stories with emotion and detail. Just asking these flood survivors questions exposed their raw emotions. They needed to talk, to be heard. Let’s hope that financial assistance is coming soon to help them rebuild their lives.

  3. Katie Shones Says:

    Things are progressing slowly in Hammond and the much awaited disaster proclamation by Obama provides very little assistance to individual homeowners. The majority of the monies will be spent on public/government buildings, roadways, parks, etc. The people in this area are feeling betrayed by the government. We are hardworking middle class people who pay taxes and when we really need help, there is none. Just because so few homes have been affected is no excuse to deny assistance to homeowners. Katie Shones

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:


      I understand your frustration and anger. I would feel the same if I was in your shoes. What are Hammond residents doing? Leaving town? Planning to repair or rebuild? Where are they turning for financing?

      In Faribault, homeowners who had sewage backup or floodwaters in their houses are facing the same financial difficulties, if they are uninsured or under-insured. These, too, are hard-working individuals who cannot afford to borrow money to fix the problems.

      Is there anything Minnesotans can do, individually, or as church or other groups, to help your community?

      Thank you so much, Katie, for sharing your thoughts.

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