"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hammond, Minnesota Is Gone

This will go back to being a running blog soon.

Those who want to help flood victims Larry and Colleen this weekend should contact Maria Barton by email or, if you're available during the week, can contact Larry on his cell. I won't post either of those here, but will give them out to those who ask. Ironically, I'm suffering from asthma from mold allergies and can't go.

Zumbro Falls can, should and will recover from the flood, but nearby Hammond won't. It might be of some interest to explain why this is.

It looks like Hammond started because it was a convenient place to put a bridge over the Zumbro River. During the Eisenhower administration's interstate highway development, more direct routes between larger cities resulted in other bridges and the road through Hammond became just a shortcut to Elgin, which isn't much of a destination. Zumbro Falls is at the intersection of the highway linking Lake City to Rochester and the county road connecting Wabasha to Zumbro (and, more importantly, to a highway connecting Rochester to Minneapolis and St. Paul). That's a viable location.

The bridge in Hammond is gone. The road is reportedly impassable to most vehicles. While the residents of Zumbro Falls are being allowed back to take photos for insurance purposes, Hammond is still completely vacated. The mayor of Hammond went in to assess the damage; she said she and her husband won't rebuild.

There were only three businesses left in Hammond before the flood [ this is second-hand report]: the bank, a restaurant and a bar. The bank, a two story brick building about 100 years old, probably was created to provide assistance to local farmers. There are fewer farmers today and they, like all businessmen, bank for profit rather than convenience, so they can bank elsewhere. The other businesses rely on people being in town and it would be a year before that could happen; they can't survive a year without business. In contrast, Zumbro Falls has at least 20 businesses on the main street (all lost, but rebuildable) and a more thriving economy.

The houses in Hammond were (I believe) all one story and wood construction. There won't be anything salvageable. There have been floods there before and people have rebuilt, but there is no high ground in Hammond and flood insurance is prohibitively expensive now that it's flooded again. There is also less infrastructure than in Zumbro Falls, where there are gas lines, and utilities in Zumbro Falls are already being repaired. There are salvageable houses in Zumbro Falls, houses on hillsides above the flood plain, people are there now cleaning and repairing, but Hammond is empty.

Governer Pawlenty, speaking of the towns ravaged by floods said, "These towns will rebuild." Hammond won't. Hammond is gone.