MINOOKA — Tina Johnson sat in her living room, where everything she owned sat ruined on the floor.
Lit by the afternoon sun shining through her open front door, she regarded the items she’d accumulated over the years she’d lived at Shady Oaks Mobile Home park — lamps, toys, decorations, furniture. All of it destroyed by floodwater.
“Everything I have is in this house,” Johnson said. “I emotionally can’t deal with any more.”
Hers is a story of loss and uncertainty, and it’s one many residents of this mobile home park are telling in the wake of the severe flooding in late April.
On the front lawns, mounds of furniture line each side of the road. Residents who had to be evacuated are just returning to see what of their homes — their lives — is still salvagable.
Residents were cleaning up Monday, April 22, throwing their water-damaged items into large Dumpsters. Rosati’s and McDonald’s donated food to residents after the storm.
Johnson said she wasn’t expecting any of this to happen when the rain started falling hard Friday, April 19. Then, emergency personnel knocked on her door and told her she needed to evacuate.
She looked around.
At that point, there was no significant flooding — not on the street in front of her house, not of the nearby pond the Aux Sable Creek carries into.
But within 20 or 30 minutes, Johnson said, the water was knee deep.
“At that point, all we could do was sit back and watch the water rise,” she said.
A week later, the sight of water-damaged walls and tar-black mud in the cabinets had yet to grow familiar, the full extent of the devastation yet to sink in.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” she said. “I wake up and I don’t know where to start first.”
“I hadn’t the faintest idea the water could get that high.”
Down the road, at the home Judy Stewart and Mary Magee share, a deck was ripped away from the side of the building.
Magee said personal belongings, including photographs that can’t be replaced, were lost in the flood. “It’s been awful,” Magee said. “My whole life is falling apart.”
“Everything I’ve worked for in my entire life was just gone in minutes,” she said.
Stewart said that they were not sure they would be able to fix their home.
“It’s devastating,” she said.
And it’s that uncertainty — as much as anything — that residents are attempting to deal with.
Johnson said she’s trying to take things one day at a time. But she isn’t sure how she will recover.
“I don’t have a place to live right now,” Johnson said. “I have no idea where I’ll be in a week.”
“We need help.”