A rubber tote filled with photos and keepsakes, found floating in floodwaters this summer in Colfax, has finally been returned to its owners. The tote belongs to Dave Witke, who recently moved from Colfax to Florida.
His sister, Brenda, was storing some her brother’s belongings when floodwaters destroyed everything in her home in early August. Shortly afterward, Brenda suffered a massive heart attack. She remains hospitalized. Her sister-in-law, Jodie Borts, lives just north of Colfax. She called to claim the tote when a Des Moines T-V station displayed the photos in a newscast.
“A lot of these pictures are from when Dave was younger – his military pictures and older family photos of his mom who has passed on,” Borts said. “These are things that you can’t get back and it’s just a miracle they weren’t destroyed.” Brenda Witke’s husband and their four-year-old son have been staying with the Borts family since the flood.
They lost nearly everything they owned in the flood and didn’t even realize the blue rubber tote had disappeared. Borts says they’re grateful to the people who found the tote and took it to a Colfax church. “A lot of people, not knowing where these pictures were from – whether they had floated down from Ames or whatever the case may be…a lot of people might have thrown them away thinking they’d never find the owner,” Borts said.
At least 300 homes in Colfax were badly damaged or destroyed in early August when the Skunk River flooded the west side of town.