The Gustavus men’s basketball team travelled to Rushford, Minnesota recently and spent the day helping the community clean up from the devastation caused by flash flooding in late August. The Gusties felt a special draw to Rushford as it is the hometown of assistant men’s basketball coach Josh Drinkall. The team spent the day cleaning up a park that had been buried in silt by the flood waters.
A dike in Rushford broke after the area was hit with over 15 inches of rain on August 18-19 and the flood waters rushed through the town destroying 176 homes and damaging another 70 extensively. The community of 1,800 people suffered an estimated $38 million in damages.
Gustavus Head Coach Mark Hanson looks for an opportunity each year for his team to help others and build some team chemistry in the process. Hanson stated, “After experiencing the tornado in St. Peter in 1998, we know what is like to have to clean up from a disaster. We truly appreciated all those who came to help us and we thought this was a perfect opportunity to help others. In addition, the flood in Rushford directly affected the friends and family of our assistant coach Josh Drinkall and we certainly wanted to be able to pitch in and help those close to him.”
Seventeen members of the men’s basketball team got on a school bus for the two-and-a-half hour bus ride to Rushford. Once the players arrived, they were assigned to clean up a park down by the river that had been built by its residents of several years ago. The project hit home for many of the Gustavus players because St. Peter has the same kind of a park built by its residents right in the center of town. The Gusties rolled up their sleeves and started shoveling dirt, sweeping away silt, and washing away mud with hoses. The clean-up project took about eight hours and the players felt a great sense of accomplishment when they left as the park was close to being ready to be opened again. Senior captain Trevor Wittwer welcomed the opportunity to help the residents of Rushford. He commented, “It was shocking to see the damage caused by the floods as we drove into town. The residents were very welcoming and thankful for our help and it felt good to be able to assist a community that is very much in need at this time.”