TRAVERSE CITY — Charlie Frye is haunted by vivid memories of his idyllic stretch of Boardman River rising to wash away the life he worked so hard to build.
Brown Bridge Dam breached a year ago today and sent millions of gallons of water downstream. The flood damaged dozens of residential properties, including Frye’s. He’s managed to rebuild his house, but the retired lineman, 93, likely won’t ever truly call it home again.
Frye worked for 50 years to create his American dream alongside the river. The water that for decades soothed him whipped into a raging torrent in a matter of minutes on Oct. 6, 2012. It washed away the streamside paradise he created with his own blood and sweat.
“It’s just a place to live,” Frye told his daughters Sharon Pierce and Jennifer Coy. “It will never be my home again. My home went out in two dumpsters.”
The flood and four months of struggles to rebuild the World War II veteran’s life are too painful for him to discuss, too traumatic for him to relive.Water rising
Frye left his house along River Road that day after someone called him about the dam breach and commanded he go to higher ground. He went to his daughter Jennifer Coy’s house a few miles away.
“You should see the river; it’s up so high and flooded,” he told her, adding that some of the emergency crews along the way told him to come back at about 5 p.m.
“He did,” Jennifer said. “He was bound and determined to go himself, but he couldn’t get into the driveway.”
His other daughter, Sharon, and her husband Tom Pierce tried to go to the house that day but emergency personnel at roadblocks wouldn’t let them through. They went at 10 p.m. that night with flashlights and looked inside the house.