Becky and Don Waskosky describe a peaceful life on the Le Sueur River, near Mankato, Minnesota, until heavy rain and storms threatened to wash away their entire backyard. This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans.
This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for their We Are Water MN initiative, an outgrowth of our national traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."
Don: We’re Don Waskosky and my wife Becky Waskosky and we live on the Le Sueur River just south of Mankato. We moved out here in ‘04 just to get out of the city and out in the country so we could kind of spread our wings a little bit and not be so crowded.
Becky: It was just a dream of ours to live out in the country and being by water was an important thing to us. We are also huge wildlife lovers and so we enjoy the abundance elf birds and deer and…
Don: We also have turkeys and other things and it’s quiet and peaceful and you can actually go out in the back yard and enjoy quiet, and hear a little bit of the river. Then things got a little stressful as the backyard started to disappear. In 2010 a train of thunderstorms went across the southern part of the watershed and we lost 20-25 feet in our back yard within a day and a half.
Becky: Actually I think it rained on Thursday and Friday. By Friday night, it was getting quite high. The next morning was when we all of the sudden started hearing and seeing it start to drop in the river. I actually wasn’t home at the time and I got a call from my neighbor, said you need to come home right away because your house is going to go in the river.
Don, you were here at that time, I think. Don: I was. It went down in clumps, you could hear it and you could smell it. You could smell the dirt in the air. And the river had a growl to it, which was a little frightening when you sit there and you watch your land disappear.
Becky : We didn’t know how much was going to go that Saturday night. We didn’t know what we would wake up to in the morning.
Don: I got drunk.[laughter]
Sunday it had peaked and it had gotten to its closest point to us. Probably between my deck and the edge of it we have about 15 feet.
Becky: People that have lived out here for 30 years never seen the river that high, ever, not even close to that.
Don: Well, that’s why we got involved with this Le Sueur River Watershed Group four years ago. Basically what we are trying to do is slow down the water. Slow down how quick it gets to the river.
Becky: We all know we can’t control how much it’s going to rain, but you can stop how quickly it comes so it doesn’t hit the Le Sueur River so quickly.
Don: We’re working with farmers, to set up drainage ponds, so that that water can be metered to the river as opposed to it going directly from tile, into ditch, into river. And we’re making progress.
Becky: We love living here. This is our life here. We don’t want to have to move."