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Worry about everything! (02/02/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

I called my sister, who lives in Massachusetts, under the guise of concern about them because of the enormous snow storm that was forecast to hit there. But deep down in my heart, I wanted to rub it in that we are not the only snow globe city in the country. They, like us, have already got a tremendous amount of snow on the ground. In fact, she said they had spent the weekend shoveling prior to the storm so there would be room for more snow when their driveway was plowed.

She also, to my horror, said she had just come down from the roof ó one story, thank goodness ó which she had shoveled so the coming deluge wouldnít cave in the roof. Iíve read about too many Baby Boomers falling from roofs with dire consequences to be comfortable with the vision of my sister on the roof.

I didnít talked to my brother today, who lives in northern Vermontís Northwest Kingdom, but theyíve already had 90 inches of snow this year. He claims to love it, but I am willing to bet this love cools a bit as he ages. At least he doesnít have to shovel his roof. He built what is called a bow house. The roof is shaped like one of those slightly bowed barn roofs.

Cindi Porter said her sister shared that way up in northern Minnesota, where she lives, she has had to dig around the bird feeders so they arenít buried in snow and the birds can reach them.

This means that come spring, all that snow will melt (it had better!) and we might be looking at a flood right here in river city. Of course we have a dike protecting Winona itself, but as we have seen, not all flooding rises out of the Mississippi River in these parts.

Back in my earliest days in Winona, came the flood of 1965. I had never had experience with flooding, and at the time ó this seems unbelievable, but itís true ó I donít think I really knew where the river was in relation to my college. So when we were told that we had to leave campus early for our Easter vacation because of impending floods, I didnít know what Winona was in for. Years later, I saw photos of the Ď65 flood, and was told that the print plant in our basement here on Second St. was flooded, the Hal Leonard presses having been packed in vaseline prior to the flood. And at Peerless Chain, which at the time was downtown, they set up makeshift bridges from dry parts of the street that led to first floor windows so the accounting department could get to work (part of the jobs program, no doubt).

I left Winona for Omaha, where I could stay with my aunt and uncle. I managed to catch a ride with a classmate from Council Bluffs, and we merrily dragged our suitcases out to her fatherís car. But on the way, we passed another classmate, from Mankato, who was sobbing. We stopped to see what was wrong, and learned that she could not contact her parents, as there were no communication lines with Mankato, didnít know if they were safe, and didnít know where she would be going to escape Winona. Suddenly the word flood took on a different meaning for me.

On our way through Iowa, we were stopped several times by washed-out bridges and had to backtrack and find a different route. We finally arrived at my aunt and uncleís house late into the night, exhausted and a little agitated.

After college, I married and settled in Winona for good (or worse?), and now am, unfortunately, quite familiar with floods and the devastation they can cause. We were lucky to live in a house that was built on a high spot in the neighborhood, and the basement never flooded. But before our river place was raised up on stilts, we went through the odious task of cleaning up after a flood. As we were washing the walls, high above our heads on a beam was a faint line and the words ďí65 flood.Ē We vowed then and there to save our money and raise the cottage.

Our experience was nothing compared to the hundreds of people affected by the 2007 floods, an event this area would like never to repeat. Today, we are running a feature about flood insurance, something most people donít think they need. But after the 2007 floods destroyed places no one thought were in a floodplain, householders may want to consider the wisdom of insuring against flood. Itís like my kidsí piano teacher, Mrs. Lid, always said, ďThe things you worry about never happen. So worry about everything!Ē 


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