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After the Flood

Posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009.

On June 6 and 7, 2008 more than 10 inches of rain fell in parts of central and southern Indiana. The rain overwhelmed the already saturated soil and quickly caused rivers and streams to rise dramatically.

The Columbus Regional Hospital was hit especially hard as the usually calm Haw Creek couldn’t handle the huge amount of runoff that was flowing from the north. The entire basement and part of the first floor of the hospital was flooded.

Power, computers, and phones for the whole building were quickly knocked out. Soon after, the decision was made to evacuate the 157 patients at the hospital.

Video via YouTube

Last week, to help commemorate the one year anniversary of the flood, StoryCorps Door-to-Door recorded interviews with hospital employees who were there on the night of the flood and participated in the ongoing recovery, cleanup, and rebuilding efforts.

When David Lenart, Director of Facilities and Materials Management, arrived at the hospital, he said, “it looked like a bad movie. Six hours felt like three days.”

After the patients were taken to safety at other area hospitals, the recovery and cleanup began. Don Michael, a hospital trustee remembered: “Everyone made it up as we went along. There were disaster plans in place, but none contemplated losing the whole hospital for months.”

The hospital re-opened, after a challenging summer, on October 27, 2008. Some of the hospital facilities are still in temporary buildings, and memories of the flood are just beginning to fade, but the community and the hospital have definitely come away stronger from the experience. Nearly everyone recounted the way the disaster brought staff closer together and demonstrated what was truly possible to achieve together.

Below are the hospital employees and community leaders who shared their stories last week. You can read more about the rebuilding efforts and see photos and video on the Columbus Regional Hospital Recovery site.

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