Monday, August 20, 2007

Gays Mills flooded, evacuated; priest is last to leave

As those in the area are aware, a regional deluge has led to at least six deaths in southeast Minnesota/soutwest Wisconsin. For ongoing full coverage and photos, visit the La Crosse Tribune. Please pray for the repose of those who have died, and for the safety of rescuers and those involved in road work, etc.

A snip from my story for this Thursday's Catholic Times:

[...] Following Saturday night’s deluge, the Kickapoo River’s gauge at Gays Mills recorded a record crest of 21.5 feet Sunday. More than 75 homes were flooded in that village, leading the Federal Emergency Management Agency to order its residents evacuated.
Father Robert Chukwu, newly appointed parochial administrator at St. Mary’s Parish there, refused to evacuate Sunday and answered the phone at the rectory as he waited for parishioners to get him out Monday morning.
“I’m going to leave this morning because they say there will be more rain,” he told The Catholic Times, newspaper of the Diocese of La Crosse, where his parish is located. “Some of my parishioners are coming to get me. I’m planning to empty the tabernacle and get away with the Sacrament. That’s just as much as I will be able to take away.”
Although the telephone was still working, Father Chukwu said electricity and natural gas had been off since early Sunday morning. He cancelled his Sunday Masses; and yesterday he was blocked by rising floodwaters on the way to his second parish, St. Philip’s in Rolling Ground.
“People are in boats in the streets, so it’s really bad,” he said. “Some cars are submerged, so that gives you an idea of the water. The people at the senior citizen center were evacuated yesterday.”
He said there are four to five feet of water in the church basement; if the rain didn’t stop, the upper floor of the church would soon be flooded. “We’re praying it doesn’t rain anymore,” he said. [...]

For the rest of the story, you'll have to wait until the paper comes out on Thursday. The photo is one of several taken by Catholic Times correspondent Joe O'Brien at about noon today.

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