From Homeless to Hopeful in Fond du Lac

By KBJR News 1

July 9, 2012 Updated Jul 9, 2012 at 5:06 PM CST

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- Duluth's Fond du Lac neighborhood is still in bad shape following the flood of the century, with homes lining Water Street mostly vacant and dozens of residents homeless.

With FEMA dollars uncertain for private property, those in Fond du Lac are turning to volunteers for the simplest things, like food and shelter.

Since 1953, this home on Water Street has belonged to Judith O'Neill's family. She loves her community.

"I don't think there is a downside other than the long winters," says O'Neill.

June's flood transformed her home overnight.

"it was really devastating but when I opened the door and saw inside my house and saw everything floating and the mud, it was just really overwhelming," says O'Neill.

Now, the inside is gutted, her driveway destroyed, a washtub and toilet sit where her cars used to park.

Because of all of the destruction to Judith's home, she's has one of these yellow signs on her door saying that she just can't live here anymore, and after staying in a motel for a couple of days, she had to resort to something a little more drastic.

"I was staying at a motel and it was cost prohibitive so I just stayed in my car."

That is until Fond du lac Pastor Rob Skutevik gave her shelter from the storm.

"Everybody is affected differently to varying degrees and I think Judith is one of the more serious cases," says Pastor Rob Skutevik at his church in the Fond du Lac neighborhood.

He offered her this mission house next to his church.

"She was really stuck in a difficult situation. She's lost everything. A lot of people on water street have lost a lot," Pastor Rob Skutevik.

O'Neill is thankful.

"Volunteers have been great, the church has been great, they put meals on, it's been wonderful. It's very reassuring because you don't know where to turn," says O'Neill.

Not everyone can live in the church but Pastor Rob says their door are open to help in any way they can from a hot meal to kind shoulder. The Fond du Lac Community Church has been providing resources for the neighborhood since day one of the flood.

Pastor Rob says they are less busy today, but there are still people calling in every day for flood help.

Zach Vavricka

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