Olive Branch residents still recovering 2 months after flood

OLIVE BRANCH, Tenn. (AP) — Frances Ivonne Brensdal woke up June 7 to find her Olive Branch home flooded after a night of record rainfall, which left her family and others displaced.

She didn't even know it was raining.

"My neighbor called me at 2:30 (a.m.) and said her house was flooded, and asked if mine was too," Brensdal said. "I had been sound asleep, but I said, 'I'll check.' I stepped down my bed into about 4 inches of water."

The 78-year-old lived with her husband, Gary Brensdal, 76, on Wellington Drive where their house, along with their two neighbors' houses, flooded.

According to the National Weather Service, Olive Branch had 8.7 inches of rainfall between 7 p.m. June 6 and 7 a.m. June 7.

Now, two months after the flooding, some residents are still cleaning up and waiting to return home.

"I don't know how long it will take to get repaired," Brensdal said. "I got some estimates and it is astronomically high, even with all of the work that's been done. The family can do part of the work, but some of it is beyond their skill level."

Brensdal currently resides with her daughter in East Memphis while her husband stays at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Oxford.

Her husband, who has Alzheimer's disease, stayed in a hospital the night of the flooding due to pneumonia.

"I was thanking the Lord that he was in the hospital because I would've not been able to manage him wading through all that stinkin' water," Brensdal said.

She has visited him a handful of times since the flooding.

"It's strange," Brensdal said. "I'm used to having him, every day, right with me. It's hard not to have him with me."

They lived in the house for 13 years and planned on selling it, but now they need about $20,000 to repair the damage before anyone can move in.

Brensdal will not move back after repairing the house.

Susan Collins, Brensdal's neighbor, evacuated her house at 3 a.m. to higher ground across the street.

"I start hearing a loud ticking sound coming from the garage," Collins said. "I thought, 'What in the world is that?' and when I left my bedroom, water had already begun to come into my house."

While she crossed Wellington Drive, the water reached her waist.

Collins stayed the morning at her son's house, and around 7 a.m. Brensdal called her.

"She told me the water was all gone," Collins said, tearing up. "How in the world is that possible? I went back there and, sure enough, the water was gone, but it ruined all my floors."

Members of multiple churches in Olive Branch took apart about 2 feet of her walls and ripped up the floors before anything else was damaged.

A company worked on what the church members could not do and finished July 13.

Collins now stays with her son about seven minutes from her home, afraid the house might flood again.

Collins and Brensdal had flood insurance in previous years, but they took it off after the city labeled the area as a low-risk flood zone.

Brensdal spoke to Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips about financial assistance and what's next for the situation.

"They said they're still studying it and they hope to do something, but they don't know when," Brensdal said. "Somewhere along the way they want to help us out."

Phillips did not return requests for comment.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Joy Henderson said a decision on what's next for the flood victims has not been made.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com