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Some Black Earth residents still struggling to recover from historic floods

BLACK EARTH (WKOW) — Many people in Black Earth are still picking up the pieces one year since historic flooding ravaged their community.

Shirley Williams remembers the night floodwaters destroyed her basement.

“It was just a frightening scene,” said Williams, remembering frantically calling 911 as her home quickly surrounded with water. “I said, ‘I’m here alone and I don’t know what to do.”

The water was too high so Williams sat and waited until the morning when rescue crews were finally able to reach her.

The floodwaters took out the basement wall of her home, which she helped build with her late husband, Irv, in the early 1950s. It destroyed just about everything in her basement, which she used to store priceless memories.

“I have trouble sleeping, so I take sleeping pills because I think of all of the things I’ve lost,” Williams says.

Williams says while FEMA money helped fix some wiring and replace the basement wall, they couldn’t save all of her memories stored down there.

“All our boots and shoes, my piano and the pool table…everything is gone,” she said.

As she struggles to recover from the historic floods, she says she hopes her late husband was here to help.

“That would have made such a difference because he could fix anything,” she said.

Despite her struggle, she stays optimistic about the future.

“I’m fortunate to have good friends, I have my church,” Williams said. “I’m about as normal as I’m going to be, I guess.”

Meanwhile, Black Earth Village Administrator Shellie Benish says she has not heard any negative feedback about FEMA assistance, including from Williams.

“But FEMA doesn’t make everyone whole,” said Benish.

So far FEMA has helped the village with several repair projects but there’s still more to be done, like fixing their community park.

“We’re hoping that we’ll have a large ballfield back up for Spring ball,” Benish said. “It was obviously shut down this year and teams played in other locations.”

As the Black Earth community continues its lengthy recovery process, Benish tells us since the Historic Flood, they’ve gotten about six new home permits. Benish says it’s a record number of new residents moving into the village.


Nick Buffo

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