North Sioux City, SD
Warm weather is helping clean up efforts in flooded out homes along the Missouri River.
Riv-R-Land Estates homeowner Tom Brazzell is rolling away the last of the water stains left by the Missouri River on Thursday. Look around the corner and there's a "no wake" sign still up in the front yard.
"My wife put that up, that was kind of a joke. Not really a joke,” Brazzell said.
Brazzell and his wife were forced out of their home by high tides on June 5.
"It's a whole different deal than when we started out shoveling mud. You wondered if you would ever actually get it done," Brazzell said
But exactly seven months later, the warm winter is moving repairs along faster than Brazzell ever dreamed possible.
"We worked long and hard and had a tremendous amount of support from friends and volunteers,” Brazzell said. “It would be another year if we were trying to do this ourselves."
He hopes to move back into his home in the next two weeks as soon as the bathrooms are done. But he fears some of his neighbors may never return.
"There were 56 full time residences and we're thinking that probably 48 will return and rebuild. Some of the people have chosen not to and have taken other options," Brazzell said. "Some people have just let the bank have the house back."
Just down the street three homes look the same as the day the water went down, with mud in the mailbox, sandbags and spilled cabinets.
"It will be a long time and it will never be the same, but we're going to make it," Brazzell said.
And that's why painting on January 5 is such a treat, because Brazzell knows the lack of snow extends all the way along the Missouri River into Montana, where last year's flood began. The weather gives him hope that this spring will be better and confidence that he made the right decision to rebuild.
"For the most part, everybody out here loves to live here," Brazzell said. "We love the river, we love the boating and fishing and that's why we live here."
Homeowners are even planning to eventually repair the canal that allowed them to park their boats right off the back yard.