A stew of water, fuel, fertilizer and sewage settled in homes for over a week. As the water receded, toxic black mold grew rampant, leaving nearly all of the town's 261 homes uninhabitable. Brown lines, which start mid-way up once-white doors and get increasingly darker closer to the floor, show how the receding water "got nastier and nastier," said the Rev.
He knew he was in trouble when he woke up in bed about
While waiting for help, he opened a window.
"But the odor was horrific," Collier said. "I actually closed the window back."
His is among homes already gutted to the studs, thanks to the help of church volunteers and AmeriCorps members. Many more need to be gutted. Collier said he's encouraging parishioners and neighbors to come back to clean out. The longer they wait, the more unsalvageable their homes will be, he said.
He saw one set of neighbors briefly: "They threw up their hands and left. I haven't seen them since."
Most of the people in town recently were there only for the cleanup process. Lifetimes' worth of belongings was piled high along the streets. On some, the stench of molded furniture, wood and carpeting mixed with rotting food in garbage bags, waiting to be hauled off.
Looking at a yard full of trashed belongings,
"I'm fine except when I talk about the pictures," he said.
He and his wife, who recently got a job with a propane gas company in
Nothing's been done at James Jones' home. The 69-year-old
"We're in bad shape," he said. He and his wife left the shelter last Thursday to live with a nephew.
Few residents, if any, had flood insurance. And the
Most of the town's 400 residents are retired or disabled, and they can't afford to take out the low-interest loans
"These people are not getting the resources they need to even get back to town," he said, noting 300 vehicles were also ruined. "It's going to take a huge miracle to fix
The town's six churches and all 22 businesses were flooded. Glass fronts along
By last Friday, only a seed-cleaning business and auto mechanic shop had reopened.
"We're trying to salvage and get help to the farmers," said Nichols Farm Supply owner
Devers said the gas station he partially owns will re-open, but he's unlikely to re-open the laundromat, which was "struggling anyway."
Two weeks after the flood, the town's family doctor re-opened elsewhere in
"I don't know what's going to happen to
"I can't now because it's like starting all over again," she said. "I had to throw away everything."
Standing outside the shell of her home of 40 years, she pointed to a refrigerator that floated into her yard from a neighbor's and a walk-in freezer that floated half a mile from a grocery store. Staying with family, she and her 72-year-old husband hope to eventually move back.
"It'll be like a ghost town," she said. "If I could afford it, I would relocate myself."