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Black Earth continues to recover after severe flooding

BLACK EARTH (WKOW) — Several members of the Black Earth community are working to fix damaged homes and businesses after historic flooding. 

After weeks of rain, water still fell from the clouds hovering over Black Earth on Wednesday. 

"We’re getting there. Day by day, hour by hour," said Steve Schmitt, the owner of The Shoe Box which was flooded on August 20th. 

When the flooding happened, dozens of workers and volunteers raced to get thousands of shoes out of the store and warehouse. Hundreds of pairs of shoes lined the parking lots as the staff hoped for sunnier days to help dry them out. 

"It’s been a blur," said Schmitt. 

The business was closed for seven days after the rising water seeped inside. 

"[We] probably lost a few thousand, maybe more than that as far as what we can’t sell," he added. 

The store is back open, but repairs are still ongoing. A tent is up in one of the parking lots with hundreds of flooded, yet aired out shoes for sale at a discounted price. 

"You might see a little damage, but seriously, you’d have to look pretty close and we would stand behind them if there are any problems later on," said Schmitt. 

Many of the shoes are still airing out. Customers who take part in the bargain can also return the purchased shoes at any time, according to Schmitt.

"There are sunnier days ahead, so that’s what we’re looking forward to," he added. 

Karen Carlock, the founder and owner of the Black Earth Children’s Museum, is also looking forward to a forecast without rain. 

"We’re closed for the whole month," she said referring to the museum. 

Her blood, sweat and tears put into the museum she dreamed of opening took on several feet of water. 

"My husband calculated 300,000 gallons in the basement. It’s a 5,000 square foot building and it was filled up to the ceiling," Carlock explained. 

The museum on the first flood was spared, but a semi-finished basement is a complete loss. Carlock and her husband hired professional cleaners to gut the basement and treat it for any bacteria, costing them around $40,000 out of pocket since they don’t have flood insurance. 

All of the walls in the basement are stripped of their drywall from the ceiling to the floor. The local food pantry stored food in one of the rooms. All of the items on the shelves were ruined by the floodwater. 

"This is not a great sign. We have some water coming in because of the recent rains," she said as she pointed to puddles accumulating in the basement on Wednesday. 

Carlock estimates the remodeling process will cost her at least $100,000 and she hopes to be back open by September 29th. 

Back at The Shoe Box, staff will continue selling flood impacted shoes at a low price through October. 

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