by Frances Edstrom
Just as I was sitting in a gloomy funk watching the snow fall — yet again! — outside my office window, an e-mail came from Michele at Ivie Popplewell Trucking letting us know that our book documenting the ravages and changes of the floods of August 2007 will be in the Minnesota Sesquicentennial time capsule. Thanks, Michele!
When we started planning the book — When Roads Became Rivers — the floods were still fresh in our minds. As we worked on it, going through hundreds of photos, many of them submitted to us by readers, it brought back clearly the feelings of loss, helplessness and the daunting weight of rebuilding.
But as time goes on after any disaster, we go back to our everyday lives, and lose sight of the fact that our neighbors are still out there fighting back from the devastation of those floods. I gave copies of the book to many out-of-town relatives for Christmas, and also to my children. As I leafed through the book on Christmas Day, I realized I hadn’t looked at it for a long time. This time, I was struck by the irony. How can the photos of such hideous destruction, such disgusting filth left behind by the waters, be so beautiful on the printed page?
We are very pleased that we accomplished two of our goals with the book. It will stand as a lasting history of this horrible event in this part of Minnesota. And, it has raised funds for those for whom insurance and government loans have not been enough to return them to their lives before the flood.
We wish we could have raised more money. There are very few books left of the 2,000 that were printed. SEMAR, Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors, did a good job of distributing the books to stores and banks around the area that had graciously agreed to sell them. Generous people bought them and thereby made a donation distributed through the United Way of Greater Winona.
It is our wish that the new year, despite the gloomy financial picture, will bring at long last some happy resolution to those affected by the floods. We know that for many of them, life will never be as it was. Once life shocks you with unexpected heartache and hardship, things are never the same. But scars fade, and one day we wake up and find that life is different, but tolerable, and even happy.
I wish you all a prosperous and Happy New Year!
A few thoughts about Winona
Here we are in Winona, again without a boat or even a boat replica to help explain to citizens and visitors alike our relationship to the Mighty Mississippi that flows past our shores.
Now that the Marine Art Museum has announced that it will not be installing the recently decommissioned Dredge William A. Thompson on the shores of its property on River Road, the loss of the Wilkie Steamboat Center seems that much more important.
I have long decried the vision at City Hall to strip Winona of anything that would differentiate her from any number of Midwestern towns which, like Winona, have a highway passing through it with turnoffs to big box stores.
Winona has such a rich history — such a wealth of experience to draw on to take us into a strong future, so much to recommend it to businesses, workers and professionals who could live here. I simply cannot understand why those we put in power, and those who have power by means of their position in the community, do not see the opportunity to build a vision on what is already here.