MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When they retired, Ardis and Terry Sandstrom thought they would live a carefree life in their Lake Shamineau dream home.

But then, floodwaters along the Morrison County lake inundated their home, along with 36 other cabins.

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“Our house right now is an island. We are totally circled by sandbags,” said Ardis Sandstrom.

“Every day is an hour or two taking care of sump pumps and plugging holes of the dam,” said Terry Sandstrom.

The lake sits in a bowl surrounded by wooded hills. It has no natural outlet, so for the last eight years, the water has steadily climbed. Though it’s up another six inches over winter, there is no available disaster assistance like you might find after other spring flooding events.

Because the water has risen so steadily, it’s hard to convey the urgency of the disaster. “People don’t see it and don’t realize how devastating it is to lose your home. They don’t see this as a disaster,” said Ardis Sandstrom.

Shamineau is three feet over its 100 year high water mark. Though a plan to pump water out and into a nearby sandpit exists, it has been stalled by funding and regulatory hurdles.

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Two bonding proposals have legislative support but are not a priority during a COVID-19 crisis.

That is frustrating for affected homeowners like the Sandstroms.  “This is the slowest process ever and trying to save your home while following every single rule, it’s hard,” said Ardis Sandstrom.

In the meantime, landowners and the township are pouring money into raising roads, levees and piling on more sandbags. The Sandstroms are grateful for the work of volunteers who come to help.

They’ve been praying for hot and dry weather, which would help some of the water evaporate.

“Hot and dry summer, we’ll take it,” said Terry Sandstrom.

The Sandstroms have been sheltering in place at a relative’s camper during the COVID-19 emergency.

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The pandemic, they believe, will subside long before the water does. Somberly, Ardis Sandstrom added, “we do not expect to be back into our house for years.”