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Rachel Lawler lives on the west side of Black Earth. This is her story.


August 22, 2019

Rachel Lawler

Rachel Lawler was woken up at 1 a.m. by pounding on her bedroom window in her Black Earth home. Floodwaters were already running swiftly through her front yard, as seen above.

Rachel Lawler lives on the west side of Black Earth. This is her story.

We were woken up at 1 a.m. by pounding on our bedroom window from my father-in-law. When we opened the window he told us we needed to get out now because we were being evacuated. Out the window you could see the fire department backing up our neighbors (my grandma's) driveway to evacuate her to safety, and our cousin across the street grabbing as much of his machines (bobcats, snowmobiles, lawn mowers etc.) as he could to save them from the flood waters. This was definitely really scary and overwhelming to hear and see.

We immediately ran down to our basement and water had already taken over the two storage rooms we had, our laundry room and was slowly coming into our family room. You instantly start panicking thinking of everything you should try to save, or wonder if it's too late to even grab it. The only thing we saved from our basement was this big wooden hope chest that I had gotten from my mom who passed away in 2017. I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I didn't save that and everything in it.

Sensing my panic, my husband just grabbed me by the shoulders, said to pack what I could for a couple days in a duffel bag and he'd be ready to get me, our daughter (who was two years old), two dogs and two cats in the next 20-30 mins. Everything in the next 30-45 mins happened so fast, and everything was changing even faster outside. When we left our home closer to 2 a.m., there was two feet of rushing water in the street, coming down River Courtt from the train tracks. Leaving our house behind was so hard because we didn't know what to expect, and when/if we would get back to our house. How my husband's one truck made it through the flood waters for how high it was, I don't even know how it did it. We had a camper a couple blocks away at my fathers-in-law that we were thankfully able to stay in for three days.

Coming back to our house a few hours later were feelings of shock, disbelief, and sadness. Our house, not even in a flood plain, took on 40 inches of water in our basement. The sewer pipes outside couldn't keep up the with water so it came up our basement floor drain, toilet and utility sink drain. The next three days consisted of pumping out the basement, gutting it and working on getting it dry. We had all the water pumped out by Tuesday night, we had it completely gutted by Wednesday night and it took us two days to go through all our belongings that were brought outside, figuring out what we could save and what we unfortunately couldn't.

We lost a lot of our big appliances that were down there including our washer, dryer, stand up freezer, water heater, and our boiler. Our daughter lost a lot of her toys as well. It's so disheartening to watch all your belongings become trash after an event like this happens. Everything that was sentimental to you that can't be saved, is even more sad.

The way our communities came together was empowering and heart warming. Seeing everybody and anybody working together to help those who were affected was amazing. I know there are families who were dealt a worse card than us, but in the end, we're all people who lost something from this disaster, and coming together is what matters the most. This is why I love the communities I live in and am part of.

I can definitely say that any time it rains in the future, anyone in our communities is going to have some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder wondering if or when this is going to happen again.


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