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Faces of the Flood: After being airlifted from flood waters, Johnsons seek to reclaim their home

It is hard to believe seven months ago, our area of Minnesota was hit by the most destructive flood of our time. After the flood waters had receded, its destruction had left in its place sorrow and confusion. But kind hearts, helping hands and st...

Airlifted!
Linda Johnson - who is afraid of heights - had to be airlifted from her home after the restraining wall of the Thomson Dam Reservoir broke and her home was flooded. Photo provided

It is hard to believe seven months ago, our area of Minnesota was hit by the most destructive flood of our time. After the flood waters had receded, its destruction had left in its place sorrow and confusion. But kind hearts, helping hands and strength brought hope back to the victims of the flood.

One couple, Linda and Alan Johnson of Thomson, did not let the flood's devastation get the better of them or their business. They own Alan Johnson Photography and have been running it for eight years together. When the June flood hit the couples' house and studio - which sits 75 feet away from the Thomson Reservoir - the Johnsons had to be airlifted by a Coast Guard helicopter.

"I didn't like it," Linda admitted. "It was very scary. I was put into an open basket, and then I was up in the air. We couldn't get out of our house. It was the only the way we could get out."

Once the Johnsons were transported to safety, they stayed at the Inn on Lake Superior in Duluth. However, it was peak season for high school senior photos so the Johnsons had lots of work to do, high water or no high water. They moved to the Suites Hotel, and were given a good rate on a hotel room to continue their photography business, and another room for them to live in until they could go back home.

"The flood not only affected our business, but also our customers," Linda said. "Our road to our place was destroyed, making it difficult to drive on, and our driveway was washed out. We had to make a path for the customers to reach our house."

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After a few days of staying at the hotel the couple was allowed to go back to their home to survey the damage. It was heart wrenching.

About half of their property was devastated from the flood. Their home had $50-60,000 in damages, plus the studio had $30-40,000 in damages. The house had standing water on the first floor for days, and caused the Johnsons to pull out the kitchen and dining room floors, all of the kitchen cupboards and countertops, and the hallway flooring was pulled out too. In the studio, the floors were pulled out, along with the in-floor heating pipes, and some of the walls due to mold and standing water.

To help ease the stress the couple faced repairing their home and studio, the couple's children and their spouses came to help.

"It was very stressful and very hard physically and emotionally," Linda said. "But friends and family came and helped with pulling out the in-floor heating, the walls and flooring. It was nice and encouraging. It was nice to have people come and show they care about us."

Even though the flood occurred more than six months ago, the Johnsons are still working on their home and studio - it's a "work in progress," they say - they are not letting it get the best of them.

"I wish it never happened," Linda admitted. "It was one of those moments that you never anticipated. We are still very stressed. It is really hard to tear our house apart and start over again. It's been rough, but we keep moving forward, and we don't sit around and do nothing."

Related Topics: CARLTON COUNTY
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