Nancy Cope lost her home in Flood of '93; now works at building new homes for others

4:17 PM, Aug 2, 2013   |    comments
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Nancy Cope

By Art Holliday

O'FALLON, Mo. (KSDK) - Twenty years ago, Nancy Cope's O'Fallon, Missouri home, and her mother-in-law's home were threatened by the great Flood of '93. Day-by-day, it was all captured on video by one of her in-laws. Cope refers to the flood as an 'earthquake moment' for her family.

"Really, the hardest part was you never really knew when it was gonna stop because the river just kept coming up and it rained and rained and rained," she said.

Cope, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of St. Charles, was inspired to "give back" by all the people who helped her family 20 years ago when she lost her home. She left a sales job to help build houses.

At her Habitat office, she watched home video of the flood, shot by one of her in-laws. It's not the kind of home movie you want to watch very often. The television screen showed water that almost reached the roof of her house.

"When we left the 2nd of July, we thought we'd have an inch or two in the house," Cope said.

Cope recalled that she was eight months pregnant during the Flood of '93.

"She's the best thing that ever happened in 1993 and still is," Cope said, smiling at her 19-year-old daughter Kellie, a student at DePaul University. "It was a very difficult time. I don't think we realized until you look back, how hard and horrible it really was."

Watching the video for only the third time in 20 years brings a flood of emotion.

"There were times when you wanted to give up and say, 'I just can't keep fighting anymore.' You had to be positive for your friends, your family and your kids," she said.

Although Cope's home was heavily damaged, she's grateful for the kindness of strangers, including the National Guard. The home video on her office TV showed a huge dump truck with precious cargo for someone whose house was threatened by rising water.

"What they brought us that day was pre-filled sandbags and although it doesn't sound like much, it was a great gift. It's hard to explain except to people who have been through other 'earthquake moments' in their lives," Cope said. "Definitely an earthquake moment for us."


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