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Parts of St. Joe, MI neighborhood still flooded

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Even though more than a foot of floodwater has receded from some homes on Derfla Drive in St. Joe, the residential road is still closed because of standing water.

“I fell asleep in my chair and then about 4 or 5 in the morning, I woke up – put my feet down in three inches of water,” said Jason Gosler.

That’s how Gosler woke up to last week’s historic flooding in Michiana.

“I was awake and on my feet in a heartbeat,” he said.

Gosler and his brother spent the day prior performing a usual riverside home routine of moving things to higher ground.

He’s lived at his waterfront home for 13 years and has dealt with flooding before.

But Gosler’s backyard flood gauge soon made clear their normal preparations were not good enough.

“[In] 2008, it got up to right about 14 inches, if I remember correctly,” Gosler said, pointing to the measuring tape on his flood gauge. “[This time] we got up to 36 inches, right there; almost sunk the tape measure.”

The Navy veteran’s home filled with 15 inches of water.

“You don’t think about certain things getting buoyant that shouldn’t be buoyant, like a chest freezer and things like that,” Gosler said.

The folks who live along Derfla Drive love being right next to the St. Joe River. But as the cleanup process was underway on Friday, several residents said they prefer the neighborhood when the river stays out of the road.

Nearly 10 days after historic flooding hit Michiana, the St. Joe River is still swallowing parts of Derfla Drive and nearby Linden Drive.

Utility crews and contractors were making their way home to home on Friday.

In one house, a basement apartment filled with so much water that it tossed all the furniture around.

Walls of sandbags didn’t do much this time.

And some homeowners now have a long road ahead, even once things dry up.

“There’s people down here that have paid off their homes and they don’t have flood insurance anymore because they didn’t think it was necessary, cause it’s never done this,” said Gary Kunkel, whose home on Derfla Drive flooded.

Kunkel and Gosler both said they have flood insurance; but they still expect it to take between three and six months before they can move back in.

Both men said their community is coming together in amazing ways because of the flooding.

But some residents did say that they’d appreciate if people who don’t live in the neighborhood stop coming to Derfla and Linden to look at the flooding as spectators.

In Berrien Springs on Friday, the owner of the River Springs Estates mobile home community was preparing for a volunteer-driven cleanup effort that is set for Saturday.

Several dozen manufactured homes were flooded last week and pumps were still draining water out of the neighborhood on Friday night.

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