Flooded with Ideas

Hammond resident Judy Johnson bounces back from Zumbro River disaster with help from Architectural Tech students

(left to right) Juan Mosquera, Andrew Toavs, Judy Johnson, Mark Nicholson, Emily Detjen, Matt Olson, Karen Malkowski

When Architectural Technology Instructor Beverly Claybrook heard about the Zumbro River flash flood that devastated Hammond and Zumbro Falls, Minn., in late September 2010, she contacted civic officials and relief agencies offering help from students in her program. Claybrook knew that many homes along the Zumbro had been severely damaged by flood waters. KARE 11 reported that emergency management officials found that 39 of Hammond’s 75 homes were flooded with at least 20 destroyed. KARE 11 also reported that 58 homes and 20 businesses were destroyed in Zumbro Falls.

“It was heartbreaking to see so many people displaced from their homes,” Claybrook said. “I knew that we would be able to help in some way. Eventually, Zumbro Falls posted my letter offering assistance on the city’s website.”

Dakota County Technical College

I am an architect and teach at Dakota County Technical College. I have teams of architectural drafters and interior design students that would like to help homeowners who are looking to rebuild after the flood. My students could provide the necessary drawings to get building permits and/or assist with design decisions as they begin to rebuild. I know you are eager for families to rebuild rather than leave the community and perhaps our small offer of would be just enough to influence someone’s decision to stay. Please contact me via email beverly.claybrook@dctc.edu or by phone at 612-964-3089. — zumbrofallsmn.org

Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR

Judy Johnson, a long-time Hammond resident forced out of her home by flood waters, saw the letter and contacted Claybrook. Johnson was looking for a complete remodel of her residence before she moved back home. She saw that working with the college would not only give students a chance to gain real-world experience, but also present her with a variety of plans she could use to make her final decision. Johnson recognized the collaboration as a silver lining to a far-reaching calamity.

Judy Johnson | Hammond, Minn., resident

A lab assistant going on 18 years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Johnson was at work when the Zumbro River crested at 36 feet in Hammond—or more than 18 feet above flood stage—dumping more than three feet of water on the main floor of her house. “It was like a war zone when I got home,” Johnson recalled. “The National Guard was there and gave us ten minutes to gather our belongings and evacuate.”

Eight first-year students in the Architectural Technology program have worked on the service-learning project with their instructor, Paul Karlson. One of their first tasks involved traveling to Hammond as a group to visit Johnson’s home and get a firsthand look at the damage and the existing floor plan.

“Each student created a schematic walkthrough using Google SketchUp and construction documents using AutoCAD,” Karlson said. “We then met with Judy on campus so that the students could present their plans in person.”

Emily Detjen, 24, of St. Paul, Minn., is one of the students working on the project. Detjen first got interested in architecture as a four-year-old watching her grandfather craft blueprints for his job as a civil engineer. Because she had a strong interest in design, she went on to take auto body and graphic design classes at the Dakota County Secondary Technical Center as a student at Prior Lake High School. Working on the service-learning project has given her the opportunity to put her love of design in action.

Emily Detjen (right) showing her plans to Judy Johnson

© Emily Detjen | Schematic

© Emily Detjen | Schematic Walkthrough

“Designing plans for Judy on this project has been quite interesting,” Emily Detjen said. “I really like working for a live client. It’s nice to get a different perspective and see other opinions.”

From her work at Mayo, a world-renowned teaching hospital, Judy Johnson is familiar with how a superb training process unfolds. She has been more than impressed by the professionalism and commitment the students have brought to the project. “I am amazed by their work,” said Johnson, who is currently residing with her daughter in Rochester. “They have given me some great and unique ideas. Now all I have to do is pick the ideas I like best.”

Hammond's damaged city hall is closed and has been moved to St. John's Lutheran Church (at the time of this photograph)

© Audrey Kletscher Helbling | Minnesota Prairie Roots

A child's toy lies among the tires and other rubble at a collection point in Hammond when I visited the small Wabasha County town along the Zumbro River some 2 ½ weeks after the September flood. Seeing that child's discarded toy among all the flood debris depicted, for me, the personal side of this natural disaster.

© Audrey Kletscher Helbling | Minnesota Prairie Roots

The exposed side of the restaurant/grocery in Hammond, where a portion of a building once stood. The building was lying in a heap in the street.

© Audrey Kletscher Helbling | Minnesota Prairie Roots
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1 Comment

  • Thanks so much to Beverly Claybrook and the Architectural Technology students for reaching out to Hammond resident Judy Johnson. I know, from my contacts in Hammond, that residents appreciate every bit of assistance offered to them.

    I’ve been following the situation in Hammond since visiting the area shortly after the devastating flash flood, posting a series of stories and photos in September and again in March on my Minnesota Prairie Roots blog.

    I continue to be impressed by the fortitude and resilience of Hammond residents. That said, they still need help in rebuilding their community. Your staff and students are to be commended for their efforts in helping this small Minnesota town move toward recovery.

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