Thursday, June 28, 2012

Story of a 2012 Thomson Flood Victim: Pete Koski

Petes house mid flood

Pete Koski chooses what to save while volunteers from Christian Ministry look on.  Pete hand dug this basement 30 years ago, through red clay and solid rock.

You know you have lived a good life when folks come from all over to lend a hand when your in trouble.  The Koski's have made a lot of good friends in their lives and that is paying off as they need a lot of help.

Going through belongings and what is worth saving and what should be tossed to the curb.

Petes Daredevil collection made the cut!

Koski meeting Yvonne Prettner Solon, Minnesota's Lt. Governor

State Senator Mary Murphy and Minnesota's Lt. Governor listen to a Pete Koski joke.

Despite his house being a total loss, Pete always has a sense of humor.  Here is showing his favorite beer glass (has its own working toilet on it) to an Amish Volunteer from Christian Ministries.  Note the water line to the left and below the cement truck.

The volunteers from Christian Ministries are invaluable.  Without them our town would be in even more trouble.  Here they clean out Koski's living room.
Pete tells it like it is
So when it all said and done the real work begins.  If you are like us and your house made it through with minor damage, then you have to look to your neighbors.  At least I do.  I cant walk or ride down the street and ignore the terrible loss all around me and I certainly cant just go on about my life while other people toil and work to get back up on their feet.  That said, while I lend my story telling skills I am also lending my back, my legs and my hands to whomever needs it.

Pete and his family need it and I have put a lot of time in with them (as have many others).  Pete reminds me very much of my family back in Winona.  Hard working, DIY, master of making anything out of nothing and happy with his life, his family and his history.  The Koski family has a terrible load to shoulder.  Not only have they been basically wiped out by the flood, they also have a daughter with a deadly form of cancer (they literally just held a benefit for her).  Despite this, the amount of humor, goodwill and can do attitude from these folks is overwhelming.  Here is the American spirit that built our country and it is here in force.

 If more of us were like Pete Koski, we would be a different nation that is for sure.  I was there when Pete came back to his home for the first time.  Total loss.  He said not a word, he just walked to the front of the house, picked up his fire number, grabbed a rock and slammed it back up right.  It was like MacArthur coming back to the Pacific.  There was no doubt of where to go from here, just recovery.  Since then we have cleaned out Pete's basement and his upper floor and are working to clear out all the wet belongings.  At one point we had the help of 6 or 8 Christian Ministry Volunteers.  Great  folks and hard workers.  We were in the basement, stooped over and digging out silt when I remarked about how this was certainly a Finnish basement and that a Norge like me was a bit too tall.  Pete smiled and said that he was too tired at the time to "DIG" it any deeper.  Now if you realized the rock, and clay that constitutes the ground here you would understand what an amazing thing it is that this man dug this hole (and a big one) with his hands, at night after working all day at the paper mill.  Pete has become the example of our towns destruction and its need and its toughness.  The press has come, state senators have come and just recently the Lt. Governor as well.  So far, as of now, the state has yet to declare our region a disaster area.  To me this speed is a tragedy, we need the assistance, we are watching people like Pete struggle and many others in this community and yet the State Legislature and the Governor have yet to even start the FEMA process.  Hurry up.


mk said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Hansi. Let your readers know how we can help as it's becomes more clear what we can do.

Aaron W. Hautala said...

Hey now, a Finnish height joke? Koski, good Finn. Have fat bike. Will travel. Let us know Norske, keep up the documentation of history, this story isn't being told outside of you, and it needs to be. Well done. Waiting for word in East Yawkey.

Chris St.Germain said...

Thanks Hansi, my grandparents really appreciate all that you have helped them with!!!

Anonymous said...

God Bless not only the victims, but the wonderful volunteers.