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Minnesota man loses longtime home after flooding from Rapidan Dam failure

David Hruska woke up Monday to the roar of the dam near his Minnesota home — a sound he had fallen asleep and woken up to thousands of times in his 44 years there. But on this day, the sound was piercing as his sister and brother-in-law knocked on his door, urging him to come see the destruction outside.

He ran outside to find that the roughly 600 feet of land between his Mankato home and the Rapidan Dam were being ripped out, taking with them an electrical substation and trees. The rising waters of the Blue Earth River had broken part of the dam and the floodwaters were dismantling part of the surrounding land. His sister and brother-in-law had seen the chaos begin from the family restaurant located a few meters from Hruska’s house before waking him and his father.

As his basement flooded, Hruska said he ran into his house to collect family photos, clothes and guns to take to his sister’s house about two miles away, where his father joined him. One side of the three-bedroom house quickly hung over a cliff, just meters above floodwaters. The next night, Hruska said, he was watching the news when he saw his house collapse over a cliff and swept away alongside building blocks, tree limbs and concrete.

The damage is part of flooding that hit the Midwest last weekend and earlier this week. While flooding has damaged the Rapidan Dam in the past, Hruska told the Washington Post that he never imagined his home would be affected.

“It’s not easy, but we haven’t really figured it out yet,” Hruska, 44, said of losing the only home he had ever lived in. “We’re still a little shocked.”

Hruska said he remains hopeful that his family’s restaurant, which he said is about 15 feet from the cliff’s edge, won’t also fall into the river. His parents took over the store, called Rapidan Dam Store, soon after they bought the house in 1972, he said, and it became known locally for its homemade pies.

Hruska said he and his older sister, Jenny Barnes, helped clear tables when they were kids while enjoying the strawberry-rhubarb pie that their mother, Linda, made. At home, Hruska said he loved listening to the river water colliding with the nearby cliff while the house’s windows vibrated. He often went down to the river to kayak and fish.

In the early 2000s, Hruska said he and Barnes took over the store. Hruska grilled burgers, while Barnes hand-cooked about 60 flavors of pie. They made T-shirts that said “Best dam store on a dam site!” »

The smell of grilling burgers wafted through Mankato, about 65 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis. But most people came to the store for the pies, which Barnes called “Dam Pies.” The chocolate and pecan quickly became a customer favorite, Hruska said.

Barnes eventually moved about two miles away with her husband, while Hruska remained in his childhood home with his 84-year-old father Jim.

But when storms caused flooding in Minnesota last weekend, Barnes and Hruska watched river water rise from the store. Hruska said he didn’t realize the severity of the situation until early Monday, when he saw water flowing over the dam for the first time in his life. Barnes had been I made pies that morning in anticipation of the store opening that day, Hruska said, but the store hasn’t opened since Sunday due to flooding.

Hruska said he accepted that his house would likely collapse when a nearby substation was demolished. Hruska said his neighbors helped him retrieve his belongings from his house and load them into trailers.

Hruska said his home insurance would not cover the costs of the destruction. Although his neighbors started a GoFundMe page to help him find new housing, he said he didn’t know where else he and his father would live.

But Hruska said he knew what he planned to do if his store fell through: He and Barnes would reopen it elsewhere.

“That’s about all we have left,” he said.

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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