‘I know we’ll recover, but it will take time.’ City of Cook begins cleanup after flood damage

City of Cook begins cleanup after flood damage

City of Cook begins cleanup after flood damage

In downtown Cook, Minn., there are signs the floodwaters are receding.

But for some, those high waters and the damage left behind, is overwhelming.

“Small towns like this, how do we survive this sort of thing?” asked Theresa Drift. “Flood water didn’t go in my house from the inside, it came up through the sewer, which is a big distinction.”

With knee-deep water in places, sandbags still surround many buildings.

For some businesses and homes, a difficult and messy cleanup has begun.

“I want to thank everyone for keeping your neighbors safe, helping to haul things out of their businesses if needed,” Gov. Tim Walz told a group of residents.

Walz, who visited the small St. Louis County town Friday, says it’s likely Minnesota will apply for federal disaster assistance.

“Whether it’s public sector things or it’s individual things, keep receipts for everything,” he said. “Because the way this process works, we’ll do an assessment over the coming days or weeks.”

The American Red Cross is setting up a reception center, which may be expanded into an emergency shelter for those in need.

“We’re asking ourselves… how many people are going to be displaced where they can’t live in their home, or shouldn’t live in their home,” explains Theresa Bobula with the Red Cross’s Disaster Action Team.

There’s been no official evacuation order.

But Bobula says St. Louis County Emergency Management staffers are going door to door, checking on residents to see if their homes are safe.

Some residences and businesses are without power, water or sewer service.

Even after the flooding, Bobula says there will be other issues.

“We’re trying to work with the various partners to get the education about how to do some cleaning,” she notes. “You know, looking for mold, trying to dry things out as fast as you can.”

Steve Kajala was busy cleaning his office along River Street Friday afternoon.

“It was already starting to get a little musty, even with just having water in there for 36 hours,” he says. “So, we started off and people kept showing up and helping.”

Many roads up north are also overwhelmed by the flooding.

“If it’s moving water, it’s high and dangerous,” declares Joe Friedricks, who runs ‘Paddle and Portage,’ a Grand Marais-based digital magazine.

After the U.S. Forest Service shut down entry points to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Friedrick says roads are washed out and that people using waterways need to be extra cautious.

“There’s moving water in places where there otherwise might not be,” he says. “The volume of water that is moving is of the magnitude that if you’re in that, if you capsize and go in the water, you’re automatically in a life-threatening situation.”

Back in Cook, Mayor Harold Johnson told residents Friday, “I think we’ll recover; I know we’ll recover, but it will take time.”  

There are many stories about neighbors helping neighbors.

“We had yesterday, a lady pulled up and she had just gone to Walmart in Virginia and probably had 25 cases (of water) in the back of her truck,” Bobula recalls. “Everybody just unloaded it and offered it out to people. People have really come together in this community, which is wonderful.”

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