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.
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.
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.
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.
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