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Flood victim helps neighbors save memories

Lake Zurich resident Jean Medinsalvages phoalbum thwas neighbors flooded basement. | Phosubmitted

Lake Zurich resident Jean Medina salvages a photo album that was in a neighbors flooded basement. | Photo submitted

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Updated: September 9, 2013 7:22PM

Sometimes disasters bring communities closer together.

In Lake Zurich’s case, the aftermath of record-flooding two weeks ago has resulted in a wave of good will with residents and businesses helping their neighbors rebound and clean up.

Lake Zurich resident Jean Medina offered to help in the most tangible way she could think: Picture salvaging.

She choked up as she explained the reasoning behind her good deed.

“The basement of the home I grew up in flooded often and I lost a lot of my childhood memories,” Medina said. “When you have such a bad flood like that, there are things that take precedence. With photos, you don’t really have time to lay them out or take care of them.”

Medina said she collected photos from five of the families whose homes were hit by the brunt of the flooding. She brought them back to her home to work on, with help from a dozen other volunteers.

Specifically, she visited homes on Stone Avenue, Stanton Court, Thistle Lane and Bristol Trail.

“I gathered up photo albums, photos that were on their walls, boxes of pictures and began pulling them apart,” Medina said, noting it was difficult to estimate how many photos she worked on, though she knew it was well over 1,000.

Medina said it took her and volunteers more than four days straight to pull the photos apart and dry them out in several areas of her home.

Noting that pictures generally fare surprisingly well in water, Medina said most were saved and already returned to their owners.

She couldn’t have done it, however, without help from family members Gus, Isabella, Victoria and Nicholas Medina; Brenda and Tyler Papierniak; Cheri Rose; Kelley Belew; Heather Swolsky; Adrianne Myers; Rachel Davis; and Laurie Webster.

A picture of the photos that were saved was posted on Facebook under “Lake Zurich Flood Victims.”

Lake Zurich residents Rose, Chris and Christina Bos and Jackie Beegun created the Facebook page to support the flood victims. The page encourages people to post contact information of businesses willing to help with dry walling, painting, air duct cleaning and anything other necessary flood repairs.

So far, Beegun has listed more than 20 business, groups and organizations that donated food or services.

“Everyone has come together to do so much to assist the neighbors in our community — it’s a little bit of heaven on earth,” said Father David Ryan of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Lake Zurich.

During visits with flood victims on Thistle Lane and Stone Road near Bristol Trail, Ryan said he saw community members mowing lawns for neighbors whose mowers were destroyed. He also saw merchants offering their services at no or little cost to homeowners while others offered help in the form of monetary donations.

His parish also collected $12,230 for flood victims during a “second collection” at the Saturday and Sunday masses last weekend. The St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Francis will be coordinating and distributing the funds. Flood victims can call (847) 726-4723 or St. Vincent de Paul at (847) 438-6622 to inquire about flood assistance.

The parish also sent another dumpster to the Bristol Trail area toward the end of last week when all the other dumpsters had been filled to the brim with debris and other parts of homes that had been destroyed.

Beegun said that The Chapel on Rand Road and Lake Zurich High School football contributed to the effort as well. The Alpine Chapel bought and installed eight hot water heaters.

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