By Gabrielle Lamplugh, student, Auburn University
Y Hollow has been connected to the rest of the Eagan community by a bridge crossing the Clearfork River for several generations. As the years pass the gentle ravines of the river have been replaced by ravines guiding water out of residents’ yards and away from their homes. According to Marlow, these efforts alone aren’t enough to prevent damaging floods.
“We have a whole lot of water built up, septic tanks can’t be used… on the other side of the creek police, fire department, or even electric department during a flood – they can’t get up there,” Marlow said. “When the water is up the electric company can’t get up there to find out what the trouble is… and we have been out of electricity for two or three days.”
Clarence, who now uses propane power, said that from 1993-1998, when his home was warmed by a coal stove, a power outage meant he had “nothing.”
In addition to emergency needs, the everyday needs, such as traveling to nearby communities and transporting children to school, become impossible when floods overwhelm the bridge. Oftentimes, when the bus can’t reach the hamlets, students simply don’t attend class.
Marlow’s own move into Eagan was postponed from May to July after eighteen inches of water which overflowed into his current home from the Clearfork River in 1993. The windows in the basement were removed and replaced by boards prior to his arrival, because the water pressure knocked glass out of the frame, in addition to breaking the basement door.
“We’ve lost about two foot of yard,” Marlow said. “Since the blizzards leave floods it just washes the beds
Marlow has not had an uncommon experience. Frequent flooding has been changing the landscape for many generations, regardless of the adaptations of Y Hollow settlers. The Eagan Baptist Church, located next door to Marlow, now has water pumps in the basement to remove the water which enters during rainstorms and after blizzards. The erosion of the embankment has been eating away at local property for years.
“That used to be my garden,” Marlow said of a large mud hole in the rear of his yard. “I’d plant it, and then it’d flood…. And when it flooded it just washed everything out. It did that three times in the same summer and then I just quit.”
Marlow emphasized how replacing the bridge would improve not only his quality of life, but that of the greater community. Marlow believes a new bridge, which would remove the threat of flooding, would help revitalize interest in the Eagan community and attract potential residents.
“I believe more people would want to move into the area if they had access to get across the creek,” Marlow said. “A lot of people don’t want to come back because of the inconvenience.”