Jose Santay was sleeping when police came to his door.

It was about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

The 11-year-old boy learned he and his family were advised to evacuate their home in Inglewood due to rising waters.

“My dad said, ‘Get your stuff ready, because we’re going to the shelter’ and we started to get ready,” the boy said.

Santay said he put his shoes, socks, phone and charger in his book bag. His parents packed other things.

Like about 35 other people, the boy came with his family to First Lutheran Church in Fremont, where a Red Cross shelter was in place. Here, church members, who’ve had Red Cross training sessions, were ready to help the evacuees.

Melting ice and rain has caused flooding throughout Dodge County. The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department posted photographs on Facebook of evacuations of Emerson Estates. After 2 a.m. Thursday, the sheriff’s office reported that Inglewood was under a voluntary evacuation.

The Rev. Marty Tollefson said he got a call at about 1 a.m. Thursday from Region 5-6 Emergency Manager Thomas Smith, saying the church was needed as a shelter.

Tollefson, lead pastor at First Lutheran, said firemen brought some people from Emerson Estates. Other evacuees said they came from Inglewood.

Brenda Raymundo, who lives in Inglewood, said she was frightened when law enforcement officials knocked at her door at 1:30 a.m.

“I was scared that something bad had happened,” she said. “They asked if we would evacuate voluntarily because we could get flooded.”

Inglewood resident Francesca Carreto wondered what was happening when law enforcement knocked on her door and she saw the flashing lights of a patrol car.

Carreto said she was told that snow was melting, waters were rising, rain was coming and she and her family would need to evacuate.

She didn’t know where they would go, but was thankful to hear they could go to the church.

Even so, she and her husband, Joaquin Marcos, wondered whether or not they should leave.

“I got a headache,” Carreto said. “I started praying and asking God what we should do, but I was trusting God that he was protecting our home and our lives. I asked God to guide us.”

Carreto said her mother called.

“You’d better leave if you got notice from the police,” she said.

Her husband agreed so Carreto packed some of her family’s belongings. The family, who includes their children, Joaquin Carlos, 6, and Jannely, 3, headed to the church.

Carreto said they reached the church at about 5:30 a.m. Her husband went to work, but Carreto and her children were among families staying in the church’s mission center, which includes a large gym area.

Raymundo said once she and her children, Caroline, Katherine and Carlos, reached the church at about 4 a.m., they were given a form to fill out and cots on which they could sleep.

“They offered the kids something to eat, water and chips, and they gave us doughnuts and coffee,” Raymundo said.

Fremont’s elementary schools are out for spring break so the children played quietly in the church’s gym on Thursday morning. Some children played with building blocks. A little girl sat at a table, coloring a picture.

Raymundo is concerned about her family’s belongings which are still in their home and doesn’t know how long they’ll be at the church.

“I got worried because of the flood,” Raymundo said. “I am thankful because there is a place where we can be protected.”

Santay also expressed some early apprehension but was making the best of the situation.

“I was scared,” he said. “We came here and signed up and I saw some of my friends, so I played with them.”


News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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