JC student balances life with floodsOne college student had her mind full of nursing rotations, job interviews, board exams and bridesmaids’ dresses. But that was before water filled her basement and left her homeless. Brandi Backer, Jamestown College senior, has more than a full plate. She has a whole buffet of college obligations, wedding planning and now house cleaning, repair and a yard stacked with of 35-pound sandbags.
By: Katie Ryan, The Jamestown Sun
MONTPELIER, N.D. — One college student had her mind full of nursing rotations, job interviews, board exams and bridesmaids’ dresses.
But that was before water filled her basement and left her homeless.
Brandi Backer, Jamestown College senior, has more than a full plate. She has a whole buffet of college obligations, wedding planning and now house cleaning, repair and a yard stacked with of 35-pound sandbags.
She, like many residents with flooded basements and back yards, balance work, school and family with flood-prevention efforts and flood fixer-uppers.
Backer said she handles the stress in her life by taking it one step at a time.
“I think we’ve been kind of making jokes about it …” she said.
“…because it’s all you can do,” said her fiance, Tyler Kastet, finishing her sentence.
Backer and Kastet live in Kastet’s mother’s house in Montpelier — the same house Kastet grew up in. Like about a half-dozen homes there, the basement in the couple’s home filled with water in late March and again in mid-April.
The water never touched the main floor, but visitors can see some of its indirect effects.
To keep some possessions dry, the couple moved some basement furniture upstairs. A DVD shelf reclines in a living room easy chair and the washer and dryer join diners in the kitchen.
And the water hasn’t receded.
The finished basement is more than waist deep with water, drowning deer mounts, deep freezers and Kastet’s grandfather’s old bar.
Kastet’s grandfather, Floyd Brown, owned the Circle 13 Bar in Montpelier. Circle 13 burned down about 25 years ago but Kastet kept some of the remaining pieces.
Officials continue to ramp up releases at Jamestown and Pipestem dams, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Combined releases of 3,600 cubic feet per second are expected today, the corps said.
So the couple turned off the home’s heat and power and after living together for nine months, moved back in with their respective parents.
Now, Backer and Kastet see each other about twice a week — a significant change after seeing each other every day.
“It’s tough,” Kastet said Tuesday, his hand on Backer’s knee. “For me it’s tough.”
The additional stress hasn’t been easy on Backer either.
As the March floodwaters neared, Backer had little time to grab what she could and head for the highway. Waters inched toward the house, covering roads and leaving the couple potentially stranded.
“What do you grab in 15 minutes?” Backer said.
For her, determining what to bring — dog, dog food and dog kennel, quilts with Backer’s basketball and Kastet’s rodeo memorabilia and the couple’s 13 bulls, three horses and one donkey — was cause for a breakdown.
“Everything we have is here,” she said.
But the couple copes with light hearts and optimistic spirits.
And they aren’t the only ones looking on the bright side.
In fact, the couple’s dog, a corgi named Dually, hasn’t minded the waters much at all.
“He likes to play in the mud,” Kastet said.
So, until she can start cleaning and repairs, Backer said she’ll focus on finishing her 120 hours of nursing rotations, scheduling job interviews and studying for exams. She still has to send announcements for her coming graduation. And after that, she can return to choosing menus, music and decorations for the couple’s wedding in September.
The full effects of the flood will sink in once the couple sees what needs replacing, Backer said. But she’ll cross that bridge once the water goes down, she said.
“If we worry about everything, we’ll go nuts,” Backer said.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com