HEARTLAND FLOOD: Business owner begins costly clean up process weeks after flood

PERCIVAL, Iowa (WOWT) - It was an emotional weekend for a business owner who returned for the first time since flooding forced evacuation.

Flooding in Mills County, IA on March 18, 2019.

The loss to her was enormous, but many people showed up to help ease that pain.

Before getting the first look inside her antique mall, Finders Keepers, Alicia Chrastil needed boots and a hug.

Her brother's shovel cleared a path through the mud left by the Missouri River.

"It's right up to here so that's 20 inches or maybe two feet," brother Les Robbins said.

More than $1 million worth of antiques were displayed in booths leased to 75 sellers.

"People put their heart and soul into the booths here and it's just so sad to see what they work so hard for to be in this condition," Chrastil said.

She owns a quarter of the inventory herself.

One piece found in the mud was valued at $500 before its watery demise.

Chrastil doesn't have flood insurance, so the best way to recover is to get back open again.

Family and friends arrived with squeegees to push mud and masks to screen musty air.

"We need to get the roads open, get the customers back and back in business," volunteer Melanie Robbins said.

A few of the renters pulled out, but many plan to stay and salvage what antiques they can.

"Dust ourselves off, or wring ourselves out and come back again," Chrastil said.

She plans to reopen the shop by May 1.

It's the second major flood for the antique mall owner. In 2011 she estimated the flood insurance covered about 20 percent of damage, so the high cost versus the return wasn't worth purchasing it again.