There’s a mountain of debris still stacked in front of Jeanine Prusinowski’s Bellevue home. It contains the drywall that sheltered her family, the carpet that warmed their feet, everything from her kitchen, and Christmas decorations made over the past decade by her children.
It’s a daily reminder of all her family lost on May 2, but that’s not the way she chooses to see it.
Instead, Prusinowski, a hematology/oncology nurse on 11 North, sees the flood and its aftermath as a blessing. Because once the flood waters receded and they re-entered their devastated home, the volunteers poured in.
Their subdivision is near the Harpeth River as well as a man-made lake. On the Monday after the flood, she and her husband found chest-high water in their garage and about 8 inches of water throughout the downstairs of their home.
It was an overwhelming sight. But as they were assessing the damage, 15 volunteers from Bellevue’s Cross Point Church walked in.
“We didn’t know them, but they live in our neighborhood and they came to help.”
And the volunteers kept coming. A waitress from the restaurant where Prusinowski drinks coffee each Saturday morning read about the flood on Prusinowski’s Facebook page and came with three friends to remove baseboard and drywall.
 “We have been so blessed. I think you forget how many lives you touch,” Prusinowski said.
On Sunday, May 2, as the waters came closer, she told her children—Kevin, 10; Kyle, 8, Keegan, 6, and Kyra, 4—to “pack like we were going to the emergency room.” The family is familiar with quick trips to the E.R., so her children knew to take a few things to keep them occupied.  Ten minutes later, things were getting worse, so she changed the packing plan to “overnight.”
Before leaving, she handed family photos and some of her children’s books to her oldest son, and told him to take them upstairs.  As they fled, she grabbed some bottled water, granola bars, a “very delicious” chocolate bundt cake and a raw pork loin for Sunday night’s dinner. They drove to a friend’s nearby home and stayed for three days. They ate well.
After they had settled the children at their friend’s home, she and her husband returned to home in the afternoon, where they found water up to the mailboxes. They couldn’t get inside. “It was awful not to be able to get to our house, and wondering what was happening inside,” Prusinowski said.
The next morning they found out. “I’ve never been in a flood before. I didn’t know how devastating it would be,” she said. It’s not the large losses, like all of her husband’s power tools, or all the kitchen contents, that affect her most. It’s the smaller things—her son’s composition books, the handmade Christmas decorations, the mixing bowl that she and her daughter used when they baked.
The family had no flood insurance, but received some money from FEMA. They are focusing on the kindness of the volunteers. The family will rebuild, “because we know we belong here.”
Prusinowski, who sprained her wrist the day after the flood helping an elderly neighbor clear debris, chokes up when she talks about the surprise that awaited her when she went to the YMCA for her regular exercise class after the flood. When she checked in, she was told that her membership had anonymously been paid for the summer.
“It’s awesome for our kids to see all these people who have come to help us. That’s what they are going to remember.”

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