Rushford man rebuilds after record flood 5 years ago

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

RUSHFORD, MN (WEAU)- It’s hard to think that five years ago record flooding destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in western Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota. WEAU followed up with one man from Rushford who lost everything to the flood to find out how he is doing now, five years later.

Roger Colbenson lost his home, his cars, and even his prized collection of more than a million baseball cards.

“That Monday morning we came here and walked in the house and the furniture was everywhere, all over the place. That’s when I broke down in tears,” said Colbenson.

While talking with WEAU, Colbenson flipped through old pictures of the flood remembering one of the worst days of his life.

“It seems like just yesterday it happened but it has went so fast. Financially it cost us 627 thousand dollars we didn’t have,” said Colbenson.

The baseball cards alone were worth 250 thousand dollars. Since the flood he has rebuilt his home along with several others from scratch.

Colbenson said that more than 400 homes and 85 businesses were affected by the flood. He said that it took only 5 minutes before the water reached over 5 feet. He said it ended up covering many cars and getting as high as the windows in many homes.

Many of the local people who became heroes during the flooding are still neighbors with the people they saved.

“I had to cut a hole in the roof and get a boat inside an apartment building. I had to get a woman I know, Alice off a counter top and then I floated her to the hole and lifted her through. Just the other day I saw her at IGA shopping. It was good to see Alice out and about,” said firefighter Dave Lombard.

Rushford City Administrator said that they are done fixing up more than 40 million dollars worth of damage to the city. He added that now all the damage that is left is the financial damage to all the homeowners.

Many of the homeowners in Rushford had to take out 2nd mortgages on their homes after the flood.

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