(This story does not appear in When the River Rose.)
When Irene struck Waterbury, my wife Cathy and I were driving home from Minerva, Wisconsin. We had just attended the 40th wedding anniversary of my brother, Sid, and his wife, Cheryl. We were in touch with family and friends by cell phone and were aware of the flooding at our home at 21 Elm Street, which sits at the end of Elm Street and looks down Randall Street. Our daughter, Karen, and her husband, Todd Pudvar, made two trips to the house, one by kayak, to move many items upstairs. We were very thankful that they were able to save family albums and historical postcards. The flood waters came and left during the night, rising to a level of 29 inches on the first floor.
Family and friends had already removed much of the furniture and debris along with plaster and lath by the time we arrived home Monday night. The process of drying the interior and replacing the foundation continued over the next few weeks.
A couple of weeks in, my brother Sid drove out from his home in Watertown, Wisconsin to help with the work of restoring the house. For a week I worked with our son Steven, son-in-law Todd, and my brothers, Sid and Ray, restoring floors, removing siding, installing windows and doors. It was a great time working together sharing stories and seeing first hand the skill and dedication to the task.
Cathy and I are temporarily living with Karen and Todd, who own the old Flanders family home at 65 North Main Street. I tell folks I’m back in my old room, but the rules are different! Sid also stayed with us while he was here. It was like old times when we were growing up and living in that house and walking to school. The highlight of the week was on Thursday night when Karen and Todd hosted a family gathering. Cathy prepared a meal that was enjoyed by Ray and his wife Eloise, Sid, Karen and Todd, and family friend, Jan Gendreau, who had spent many hours cleaning at the house. Many wonderful stories of the times growing up together in the house at North Main Street were shared, resulting in much laughter!
We are ever thankful for the faithful help of family and friends and for the memories that will long be remembered, thanks to Irene, who created the opportunity for us to be together and to work together.
- Skip Flanders, assisted by Jan Gendreau