Were you a Flood Baby?

By Lori Peterson/American Red Cross

Lori Peterson (far right), and other Red Cross responders. Photo provided courtesy of Ms. Peterson.
Lori Peterson (far right), and other Red Cross workers. Photo provided courtesy of Ms. Peterson.

I call myself a flood baby. I was born on April 28 during the height of the great flood of 1965. In my scrapbook, I have collected pictures of the St Croix River reaching Highway 95 in downtown Stillwater, Minnesota. Every year, I enjoy driving past Boom Site park, seeing how high or low the river is in the spring. Are the islands showing yet? How do the trees survive each year covered in water for so long? (I am sure there is a scientific reason for all of this, but science was not my best subject in school.)

Because of the river and its mighty strength, I learned to swim at a young age. My mother never learned to swim so this was a big concern living so close to the river. We learned at a very young age to respect the river. It is constantly changing each year from the snowfall, the many creeks that flow into it and the number of trees that float down during the annual thaw. (My great, great grandfather was one of the loggers that hauled lumber down the river many years ago. I bet that he knew how to swim!) When I was five, my mother signed me up for Learn to Swim classes, which was my first experience with the American Red Cross. My siblings and I continued to take swimming lessons until we passed the test to tread with our clothes and shoes on while blowing up our long sleeved shirt to serve as a life preserver.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge during the 1965 flood. Image provided courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society.
The Stillwater Lift Bridge during the 1965 flood. Image provided courtesy of the Washington County Historical Society (http://wchsmn.org/).

The St. Croix Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross also has helped friends and families during fires and other natural disasters throughout the St. Croix Valley in Minnesota and across the river in Wisconsin. Most often trained Red Cross volunteers are those who perform these mini miracles of comfort and care quietly in the background. We often don’t hear of these amazing, local humanitarians, but they are out there assisting our communities everyday.

So, are you a flood baby, too? Were you born during the great flood of 1965? How did the flood affect your family in 1965, 1967, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s? If you grew up in the St. Croix Valley area, enjoying the scenic views, camping on one of the islands, watching the ice come off the river in the spring, fishing in the river with your grandfather or learning to swim because of the river’s strong current, then it’s likely that the American Red Cross touched you or a family member along the way.

I challenge you and other flood babies born throughout the years to respect our beloved river and honor the Red Cross this spring by supporting Evening in Red, our annual fundraiser supporting local programs and services.

Will you join me April 25, 2014, in honor the community we have been so blessed to live in? If so, click here to purchase tickets online. I would love to see you there!

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