DunRomin’ Park Campground owner Dawn Johnson saw beauty in the aftermath of a flood.
An Austin, Minn., couple was evacuated from the secluded rural Caledonia, Minn., campground the night of flash floods June 8 with about 60 other campers, but they returned for a few days to help clean. A group of regulars who lost their campers brought Johnson flowers.
“People’s kindness and generosity in a bad situation is the real story,” Johnson said.
After thousands of volunteer hours and a lot of sweat, DunRomin’ and two other local campgrounds – Camp Winnebago and Lanesboro, Minn.’s Highway 250 Campground – have reopened, according to the Winona Daily News, Winona, Minn.
News spread quickly about severe flooding at the campgrounds, which owners and workers say brought a constant flurry of phone calls from people checking to see if they were closed for the season. Some even canceled reservations at DunRomin’.
Johnson spent the following week after the flood issuing refunds. She said many told her they’ll come back when “you’re all pretty again.”
News of the damage devastated Johnson’s business, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time, she said. High gas prices and a slow economy brought camping to a standstill last summer until it picked up again in early August. But then the flood shut down the region, and Johnson said she lost a third of her business.
Nearby non-profit Camp Winnebago had canceled camping for a only day, despite about $80,000 in damage to buildings, foot bridges and roads, said program director Valerie Wilson.
Work crews and volunteers from the local Workforce Centers and sentence-to-serve program helped the campground just recently become fully functional, save for a couple of muddy patches, Wilson said.
Highway 250 Campground in Lanesboro lost six sites for the rest of the year as well as some infrastructure, said owner John Hungerholt.
Sixty of the 90 campsites were under water, including a few campers and vehicles. Hungerholt said 85 loads of sand had to be hauled out. His campground is ready for business this weekend.
“I’m pretty much getting back to normal,” he said.