My Flood Story

by Suzie Thorson, Retired Director, United Day Nursery

Page 2

An announcement was put in the Herald, on TV and radio for all staff to call me or Chris at our Gilby number. Another announcement was put in for a staff meeting on Monday, May 5th at the Head Start building.

Several meetings were held with Larry Hoiberg, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Sharon Gates, Principal of Lake Agassiz School, and Cookie Mitchell, Director of Head Start. The purpose was to find out what we could use and what we could not use. At one of these meetings, we were asked to provide free child care for any children that needed us. The state would reimburse us for our expenses.

At our staff meeting, there was a lot of hugging and crying going on - but it was great to see everyone and hear their story. It was very important to let everyone tell their story and to be good listeners. Then I started the meeting and shared as much information as I knew about what we had lost and about starting as soon as we were ready to start and that they would be paid for all the days we were closed. After a lot of discussion, we decided to open on Wednesday (in just two days). We would bring as much as we could from United, and Cookie said we could use almost everything of Head Start's.

Together we figured we could start on Wednesday, May 7th. Staff helped that afternoon and the next day to haul pickup loads of stuff to the Head Start building. Chris and I organized the enrollment process. Children already enrolled went to one desk and the other children went to another station to fill out all necessary forms. It was wild, but it worked. We were exhausted by Friday. It was good to have a weekend to rest up. The hardest part of that week was when a parent came up to me and said, "I'm sorry that you don't have any place to go after this." I answered, "We are going back to United - it is structurally sound." I stayed calm, but I was devastated that someone would say that.

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Click on photos for larger versions.

The Spectrum
The Spectrum classroom after the flood, May 1997
Photo: United Lutheran Church
The Spectrum
Suzie and Lyle Thorson in the Spectrum, July 1997
Photo: Alan Draves
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