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Hollister Residents, Businesses Pick up Pieces after Devastating Flood

HOLLISTER, Mo. -- A family that clung to a basketball hoop for survival is now cleaning up the mess left by a raging flash flood near Turkey Creek.
The tree slipped by and knocked us off the roof, so we hung out on the basketball goal for about two hours.
HOLLISTER, Mo. -- It could take weeks to clean up the damage in Hollister following a flash flood that destroyed homes and businesses along Turkey Creek.

The worst of the flooding washed away homes in the Hidden Valley residential area, where the water rose fifteen feet in thirty minutes.

Residents like Christian Hutson received a rude awakening in the early morning. Hutson had stayed the night at his friend's house near the creek. When he woke up, the mobile home where he was sleeping had floated nearly 200 ft. away from the concrete blocks on which it used to rest.

Hutson said he and several others raced to the roof of the house.

"We had to jump off because the trailer would have hit us," he said. "The tree slipped by and knocked us off the roof, so we hung out on the basketball goal for about two hours."

In the aftermath, Hutson helped his friend clean out what was left of the house, which was nearly wrecked. The living room had filled with mud and debris, the walls had started to cave in and nearly everything in the home was soiled and wet.

"I feel bad," he said. "We're going to help him all we can. He's got a lot of friends. He's a good guy."

But only a lot over from the home, Dwain and Sandy Frizzell breathed a sigh of relief as they found out their electricity and water had been restored.

"We're the lucky ones," Dwain said. "These people down here, it's hard to know what to do, what to say to them. They lost everything."

Businesses along the creek picked up the pieces, too. A massage parlor and a computer store will likely be a total loss and a neighboring lawn mower shop, owned by Larry Vejraska, will take on thousands of dollars worth of damaged inventory.

"Seeing all the work you go through to build a business," Vejraska remarked sadly, "then have something like this happen to you in basically an hour-and-a-half. That's the tough part."

The cleanup could take weeks, according to local officials. Rick Ziegenfuss, the city administrator of Hollister, said elected officials will soon develop a plan to clean up the city and possibly prevent future disasters.

He stressed the importance of the morning's rescue efforts and the many rescue groups that pitched in to help.

"Everyone that we know of is not injured, is safe," Ziegenfuss said. "That's, for us, as good as it gets."

That optimism was evident at a nearby Red Cross shelter, the New Beginnings Fellowship Church. There, Bradley Smith stood in the morning rain with a kitten resting on his shoulder. Smith was holding the cat for his neighbors, and borrowed an umbrella to keep the animal dry. Smith and his family had just moved into the park, and now faced the uncertainty of losing many of their possessions.

Even so, Smith seemed to maintain a good sense of humor about his circumstance.

"Some people need to see the bright side of things," he said. "Not the dark side."
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