Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Help rebuild the parks in flood ravaged Hammond, Minnesota April 28, 2011

An aerial view of Hammond during the flash flood of September 2010. Photo courtesy of Micheal Mann & Tina Marlowe.

SEVEN MONTHS AFTER the raging Zumbro River ravaged the small southeastern Minnesota community of Hammond in a flash flood, residents are still struggling to recover.

That recovery reaches beyond the rebuilding of homes and lives.

Hammond needs more, like help rebuilding its parks.

Hammond resident Tina Marlowe, who was the subject of a series of blog posts I published in March, was recently elected to the Hammond City Council. She’s making it her mission to rehabilitate the East End Park and Ball Field, the basketball court and the Children’s Park.

But Tina can’t do this alone. She’s counting on the generosity of others to donate monies, materials and manpower (womanpower) to the Hammond Park Flood Recovery Project.

First, though, consider what’s been lost. The merry-go-round in the Children’s Park was swept down river to Jarret and was substantially damaged. The ground cover in the park is gone. Picnic tables, grills, fire rings, garbage cans and more were washed away. FEMA will replace some items, but not all.

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.

The bridge connecting east and west Hammond is barely visible during the flood, which also overtook the town's parks. Photo courtesy of Micheal Mann & Tina Marlowe.

Tina wants to not only rebuild Hammond’s parks, but she wants to improve them, make them more family-friendly, with updated equipment.

Here are some of her ideas: “I would love to put a Pirate Ship System down at the East End. This is a popular camping and gathering area and I thought it would be very symbolic for the kids.

I would also like to put in an outdoor fitness area up at the Children’s Park. These are becoming a very popular alternative to the gym and would serve the community well when you consider our location. What a great financial alternative for families in this area. We would include equipment for adults and the children so the entire family can come down to the park and get some great exercise outdoors—and what better scenery!”

Tina’s vision is a multi-step process that she says could take years to achieve. She has set goals and is determined to help her town of about 230 residents (pre-flood).

Right now she’s asking for cash donations and donations and/or reasonable offers of used playground equipment (like that offered on public surplus from churches and schools), ground cover (sand, wood chips or chipped rubber) and green-treated lumber for dug-outs.

Can you help? If you can, submit a comment with your contact information (which I won’t publish) and I’ll take it from there.

Or, you can call Tina directly at 507-753-2166.

Cash donations should be sent to:

City of Hammond

320 East Center Street

Hammond, MN. 55991

Along with your cash donation, please submit a letter stating that the funds are for the Hammond Park Flood Recovery Project. Include a return address so appropriate charitable giving tax information can be sent to you.

If you are a teacher or the leader of a children’s/youth group, or just a parent, perhaps you can take this project on and rally your kids to help the kids of Hammond.

If you own or work for a company that can provide playground equipment or other materials, considering donating to the cause.

If you are a carpenter capable of building a pirate ship, offer to build one.

If you’re a Boy Scout, student or other young (or older) person looking for a project, you can probably assist in some way. Ask. Offer to help.

I am convinced that Tina’s visions for Hammond’s parks, for her community, can become a reality. Likewise, I believe that all of this can happen within a much shorter time frame than Tina thinks. Let’s aim for this summer.

You can make that happen, for the children of Hammond.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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4 Responses to “Help rebuild the parks in flood ravaged Hammond, Minnesota”

  1. Tina Marlowe Says:

    Anyone offering assistance can email me at tinamanntmm@aol.com.

    A big thank you to everyone for keeping Hammond and the Zumbro River Valley in your thoughts and prayers. And…… I invite everyone down to the valley this summer. Come on down and do some River Tubing, some fishing, or just pitch a tent and have a campfire!! Come experiance all the valley has to offer and discover why we feel the valley is worth rebuilding!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Readers, if you’ve never been to Hammond, you should make a road trip there. It’s a beautiful small town tucked along the Zumbro River.

      If you can help the residents of this community rebuild in any way, please contact Tina via e-mail. Recovering from a devastating natural disaster like a flash flood takes time, money, resources and labor. So consider assisting the residents of Hammond in any way you can.

  2. vicki Says:

    Great to hear Tina’s on the City Council and is heading up efforts to rebuild the Hammond parks. It is a beautiful valley. Spring, summer and fall there can’t be beat. My house had 10 feet of water in it, otherwise I’d be back! We had bald eagles sitting in our trees quite often, we saw one close nearly every day along with a wide variety of other birds. I hope the town can recover its essence. My mother-in-law and another good friend has been able to move back recently, so things are going in the right direction!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Vicki, it sounds like you really miss Hammond, and rightfully so with such natural beauty in your beloved valley. At least you can still return to visit, right? But I know, it’s not the same.


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