To some people Tropical Storm Irene meant the loss of a business or a home. To my family it meant both. The storm overflowed my family home and business with over four feet of brown, murky, bacteria- filled water.
Thirty years ago my father Hans Spiesecke left the nuclear power plant job and cookie- cutter homes of Long Island and drove to the mountains of Vermont to fulfill his dream of owning his own business. That business became the Viking Motel and Restaurant in Wilmington.
My father is the perfect definition of “jack of all trades.” If you need a house built, a new transmission in your car, need new plumbing in your bathroom, he can do it all. And what I respect about him the most is that if he can’t do it, he will learn how to.
For over thirty years it worked just like that, my mother handled the bills and customers and my father did all the manual labor.
On August 28, 2011, at around 10 am, my parents noticed that about four inches of water had seeped in through the house. They began lifting things but still remaining calm.
Minutes later, water flowed throughout the house and began rising by the foot. They were all able to make it to the front porch including our family cat who my mother was not leaving behind.
After over two months, they were able to move home. The trouble was that my father’s workshop where he had every tool known to man had been washed away. So if you needed something as simple as duct tape or a screwdriver, they were somewhere along a river or buried in mud along the banks.
Now understand this story is not to promote pity but to promote strength. I had mentioned how a cleaning crew came in to clean and that they removed walls, doors, and floors. Well someone had to rebuild it all.
With determination and strength that I am still unaware of nor do I believe I will ever witness in another person, my father has put back together our family home. New walls went up, a new office for the motel was built, and flooring was put in with beautifully painted walls.
This was wonderful news as it meant my parents after almost three months could sleep in their own beds, shower in their own bathroom. But this doesn’t even begin to discuss the motel. There are 18 rooms at our motel. The eight rooms on the bottom floor were completely flooded.
The cleaning crew ripped out walls, ceiling tiles, bathroom doors, window sills and left it more of a disaster. So each day my father, along with a kind-hearted man named Will, work on each room one at a time. He has put in new bathrooms, carpet, ceilings, window panes, furniture, and with each move came backaches, sinus infections, anger, sadness, but 100% determination. This is still only the beginning as the property is still a wreck and our family restaurant has been destroyed. Another heartbreak as my father built that as well years ago.
I would greatly like to bring some appreciation for the small town of Wilmington, which to me was once a town where you sneeze and the farmer down the road would hand you a tissue. Today I look at it as a town that was tortured by Mother Nature, and came back full swing.
So I ask you, the next time you do a project, even something as simple as mowing your lawn, or washing your windows, do it with pride. My father does everything with pride and devotion and when they say “stubborn Viking” they were looking at my father, but that stubborn Viking is my hero.