Behind the Barricades: Thomson and Jay Cooke Re-build

By KBJR News 1

September 3, 2012 Updated Sep 3, 2012 at 9:56 AM CDT

The town of Thomson and neighboring Jay Cooke State Park were decimated during the June Flood.

Two months later, things may look better on the outside, but behind the barricades, lies a mess that is only barely cleaned up.

Thomson resident Armas Koskey is one of many people who was hit by the flood.

His garage floor is still a mess of broken pavement, but everything else seems to be coming together. On this Wednesday morning, he is putting the finishing touches on a new exterior paint job.

"We'll we're starting to brighten up a little bit," he says from behind a paint brush and ladder.

His home of 47 years survived the flood of the century.

"Each day we do a little work on it, little by little."

And the work is paying off. To the naked eye, it's hard to tell a flood ever hit Armas's Thomson neighborhood.

But right around the corner from Armas' house, construction crews are busy trying to stabilize the 210 bridge into Carlton. And beyond that, construction workers inside Jay Cooke State Park see serious infrastructure problems that could take years to fix.

"This will go on for some time," says President and Chief Operating Officer for RJS Construction Peter Weidman.

In Jay Cooke State Park some repairs may never be fixed.

"It really becomes a point where you sit down and say, what is really worth doing in repairing?"

The swinging bridge was completely destroyed, and although concrete plans have not been made to rebuild it as yet, officials we spoke with were confident that would happen.

They also say that campgrounds and many of the roads inside the park will re-open eventually, but officials involved in decision making haven't yet decided whether the entire park will open again.

Although they don't get a say in what gets rebuilt, Peter and his team at RJS Construction is among many teams working to rebuild Jay Cooke State Park and the town of Thomson.

They were called in the night the storms hit, and they haven't left since.

"Decisions were being made very fast. Machinery is being brought in very fast, to try and make sure this community could sustain itself."

And although his home, and community, has come a long way, Armas says he wants this to be the last paint job he gives his house.

"I hope we don't see another one. I'm 76 and I don't want to be 156 to see another one," says Armas.

But if another one does hit, RJS says, they'll be ready...again.

Courtney Godfrey
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