Rising Above the Flood: Rushford comes back

Town back and running following storm 10 years ago

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the historic flooding that left several people dead and multiple communities picking up.

News 8 continues the series, “Rising above the Flood: 10 Years Later”, and we look at Rushford, Minnesota, a small community that saw nearly the entire downtown ruined as a result of the storms.

The National Weather Service said there were reports of up to 17 inches of rain that fell in Rushford back in 2007.

The flooding from nearby Rush Creek ruined nearly all of the buildings in downtown, and left the school covered in mud and debris.

For Judy Christian, owner of Stumpy’s Restaurant in Rushford, the events of 10 years ago are not far from her mind.

“Everything was just a big mess,” Christian said. “The place was covered with a light silk mud. It was very emotional. All of your work done over the years just gone in minutes.”

Christian wasn’t alone. Nearly every downtown business and several homes were destroyed.

“I just lost a business. I didn’t lose my home, where it’s a little more personal,” Christian said.

A decade later, the Rushford-Peterson School District, which passed a referendum in 2014 to replace its school damaged from the flood, is finally ready to move into its new school.

“The flood was the motivation that spurred us forward to seek what we’re standing in today,” Rushford-Peterson Superintendent Chuck Ehler said.

With workers putting the final touches on the school, district officials said it’s only fitting they officially open the building this Saturday, which marks 10 years to the date of the flood.

“It’s a little ironic that 10 years from the anniversary date we’ll be able to open this facility to the community,” Ehler said.

Like many businesses in this town, Christian’s restaurant reopened, thanks in part to the volunteers and the support from the community.

“People would stop in regardless and just say, ‘Now, you got to come back. We need you back in town. What would we do with out you?’ It was quite the road,” Christian said.

And 10 years later, the town is back on its feet.

“It’s great to see everyone come back, and the town is just as beautiful as it was before the flood,” Christian said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Rushford-Peterson school will be this Saturday at 10 a.m.

A short ceremony will be held. Following the program, visitors will be able to tour the facility.

It was estimated that about 200 water rescues were made in Rushford.

There were no reported fatalities.