The flash flooding that impacted southeastern Indiana on September 3 had completely destroyed the wooden bridge that was one family's only access to the main road. "The water just destroyed this bridge," Hagan told The Washington Post. They were stranded with no way of getting into town.
After that downpour, Todd Hagan and his wife came out of their home and were stunned by what they saw.
"We're alive, and we'll get through it," he assured his wife Sarah. Shortly after, community members soon arrived to help after hearing about his predicament. Ryan Jesop, Hagan's grandson's football coach, was one of the first to reach out. "As soon as I heard they needed help, I put out a call," said Jesop, an eighth-grade teacher at Switzerland County Middle School. Realizing that it would take more than a month for the couple to fix the bridge themselves, he rallied his football team to help them. The players agreed to meet the following morning on September 5 and many of them brought along their parents, siblings and other members of the community. Instead of practice, they would rebuild the bridge.
"Everybody showed up with good attitudes and were ready to help in any way that they could," said 16-year-old Gabe Rose, who showed up with his father. "My dad pretty much said, 'Well, if I'm going to take you there, I might as well stick around and help.'" When around 30 people congregated on their property before 9 a.m. that day, "both of us were just speechless," Hagan said. "Tears were coming out of our eyes. I didn't expect anything. The outreach of people was just mind-boggling."
The wooden planks that covered the 60-foot bridge needed to be replaced and it was no easy task. Kevin Steuart, another coach at the school, volunteered to pick up a load of fresh lumber that Hagan had ordered in advance, and the volunteers quickly got to work, forming an assembly line of sorts. "We had to tear it all down and get all the debris off," Hagan said. "It was like a factory."
"They're amazing people," Jesop said. "They're the heroes, not the football players." Hagan expressed his gratitude to the students by writing them thank-you cards and making a donation to the team. "I was very moved," he said. "If somebody goes down, our community is there to pick them up."