Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Worry, uncertainty prevail in flood-ravaged Zumbro Falls October 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:28 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,



Jackie demonstrates how her 2-year-old great grandson scrubbed muck from the side of Rod's Service & Motel after floodwaters inundated downtown Zumbro Falls.


LONG-TIME ZUMBRO FALLS resident Jackie sits on a bench outside her son Rod’s combination motel, car wash, convenience store and service station along Minnesota Highway 60, the town’s main drag in this flood-ravaged community.

“It (the late September flood) took away their whole livelihood,” she says, noting the ruined tools and machines inside the water-damaged complex. A horizontal black line and the word “water” mark the floodwater depth, about seven feet high inside this building.



Just to the left of the motel sign, a black line marks the water height.


Her son and his family lost their home, too. Jackie still has a home as she lives outside the flooded area.

“It (the floodwaters) took the whole town,” she concludes. “I don’t think anyone was spared.”

Not even her. A six-bedroom, two-story apartment building that she owns next to Rod’s Service, was filled with water. She had the apartment sold; final papers were due to be signed on September 30.



Jackie was set to close on the apartment building in the background, next to her son's service station complex, just days after the flood. The water rose to the point where the siding color changes. Jackie also noted that the dairy trailer (left) floated from behind the station and slammed into a fence to the left in this photo.


Surprisingly, 77-year-old Jackie isn’t bitter. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” she says.

She’s lived here since 1958, never seen anything quite like the September 23/24 flooding of the Zumbro. Other times, the river “doesn’t quite get in your door,” she remembers. “But this time, boom!”

The flash flood gave residents no time to prepare.



A flood-damaged home along Water Street, a block off the main street.



Another home destroyed by the September flood.


Jackie appreciates the tremendous response from neighbors and volunteers—specifically naming high school juniors and seniors who came from nearby Lake City to help the residents of Zumbro Falls.



Flood clean-up volunteers are directed to the registration site in downtown.


Yet, the future of her community, of her son’s business, remains in limbo. “I don’t know at this rate if anyone knows where they stand.”

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


2 Responses to “Worry, uncertainty prevail in flood-ravaged Zumbro Falls”

  1. ben macken Says:

    My deceased grandma’s childhood home is due to be torn down.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ben, I am so sorry to hear this. Was the home still in your family and could anything be salvaged? Hopefully you have some photos of the home before the flood. Or maybe you can take some before it’s torn down. What is happening with whomever lived in your grandma’s house?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.