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Jim and Roxy DeVoe, and their son Eric live near the center of Black Earth. This is their story.


August 22, 2019

Jim and Roxy DeVoe, and their son Eric live near the center of Black Earth. This is their story.

My name is Roxy DeVoe and I live in Black Earth with my husband Jim and our son Eric. Eric has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. We were affected by the flood on Aug. 21 and this is our story.

It’s raining! I went down to the basement to start the dehumidifiers as a little water is coming in our old basement. Nothing unusual for this old house.

I call my husband Jim down to try to get one of the dehumidifiers hooked up to automatically drain to the floor drain. I look around at all the ‘stuff’ that’s stored in the basement and say to my husband-”one of these days we’re going to have to clean this [stuff] out of this basement.” It must have been a premonition!

1:30 a.m., Tuesday the 21st: I wake up to pounding on my front door! I was afraid to answer it as I thought someone was trying to break in.

At my door was a fireman I had never seen before urging me to get things gathered up as we needed to evacuate NOW!

I tell him I have to get my husband up and we have a son in a wheelchair and it will take me a few minutes to get everything ready that we needed for our son. He urges me to hurry as fast as I can as we have water coming Fast!

I get Jim up and start grabbing supplies for our son; his meds and feeding supplies (he’s tube fed). We have a hoyer lift, but there was no time to use it, so my husband Jim and the fireman lift Eric into his wheelchair, I strap him in, put his tray on and grab a sweater for him. Jim thinks to grab a blanket to cover Eric as we leave the house. It’s still raining.

The fireman (who was from Mt. Horeb) backed his pickup into our driveway, and he and Jim lifted Eric’s wheelchair into the bed of the pickup. Jim climbed into the back with Eric and locked the brakes on his chair and covered him with the blanket. I got in the back seat of the truck and we went next door to get our neighbors. By this time the water was coming over the curb and up into our yard.

The neighbor’s son climbed into the back with Jim and Eric and the couple got in the truck. We headed to the village office in Black Earth to shelter there but were sent instead to New Heights Lutheran Church. When we got there the doors were still locked! By this time my son had been sitting in the bed of the pickup in the rain for at least 10 to 15 minutes and it was another 10 minutes or so before the church was open. We were very concerned about Eric developing pneumonia as he tends to be medically fragile. We watched him closely for quite a while and luckily, he managed to come out of this ordeal unscathed.

Along with close to 100 other people we sheltered at the church the rest of the night. People made coffee and someone drove to Mt. Horeb (the only place you could get to) and brought back snacks, fruit, milk, juice, and all sorts of things to keep everyone fed. The response and support there at the church was wonderful!

By about 7 a.m. the water had receded enough that people were starting to leave the church. Jim walked down the street to our house and got our van so we could get Eric back home. Jim then went to Mt. Horeb and bought a couple of sump pumps and the work began!

Everyone was pumping water. We had about four feet in our basement. Our neighbors had about four and six feet on either side of us. We pumped water until 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Once we could push our basement door open and actually get in there, we could evaluate the damage. We emptied and carried and hauled stuff out of the basement for over five days; making many , many trips to the dumpsters provided by the village

Other than all the mechanicals that we needed to replace like the furnace and the water heater, and losing a freezer and a refrigerator, we count ourselves extremely lucky. We did not have a finished basement and we did not lose anything of great sentimental value. We are so fortunate in that regard.

We received throughout this time much support from our neighbors and friends and the volunteers going around helping people remove debris from their property. We are so thankful for everyone that helped and those who offered their help.

Although I never, ever want to go through this experience again it teaches you what is important and what is not. It’s also one way to purge stuff quickly. Forty some years of “stuff” that gets stored and forgotten about goes in a big hurry! It’s been a really long time since our basement has been so clean and organized and I plan to keep it that way!


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