Peabody coming together after community flooded out

Peabody business owner David LaFoy works with a volunteer from the United Methodist Early Response Team to empty out his flooded building. Laura Fowler Paulus / Free PressDavid and Leslie LaFoy live and own a business, Adventure Sales and Engineering, in Downtown Peabody. They had to be evacuated on Sunday after rainstorms over a 32 hour period left much of downtown Peabody flooded.

“We had a layer of six inches of rain through our whole building,” said Leslie LaFoy.

The LaFoys own the building at the corner of First and Walnut St. in Peabody which flooded over the weekend of June 22 and 23. They also own the bank building across the street which didn’t have any flooding so they are moving their belongings over there.

“The United Methodist Early Response team has been out here volunteering and hauling everything out for us,” said LaFoy.

Everything happens to be the LaFoy’s business, apartment and David’s mother’s apartment.

“She is at a nursing home, but all of her belongings were in that apartment and got wet. We have gotten most of it out, but now we have to completely gut the kitchen in there,” said Leslie.

Almost all of David’s business machinery was able to be salvaged and put up out of the way of the water, even if it meant he was one of the last downtown people to be evacuated.

“They came and got us out in a bucket truck. They took the kitties out first and then me and then him and the dog,” said LaFoy.

While Leslie and David were clearly overwhelmed, they both were also very positive.

“Everybody in town has just been wonderful. Linda Martinez of Mane Street Boutique has fed us burritos and made coffee for us. The city crew was wonderful. FEMA and Randy Frank with emergency response were wonderful. The county health department came down and gave us all tetanus shots. It’s so cool to see everybody come together,” said Leslie. “The city has brought us bins for trash and has been amazing.”

David even chimed in teasing Leslie about all the cobwebs behind bookcases and other things that the helpers saw. Leslie laughed and made her own jokes.

“We’re okay. The kitties are okay. There’s a lot of good, but this is still hard,” said Leslie. “At least my house will all be cleaned after this. It will get better.”

The couple expressed appreciation for all the help they had been given.

They said that people have been asking how to help out more. Leslie suggested contacting the Red Cross to see how one can volunteer.

Across the street and up a block sits the Peabody Senior Center. While the location is different, the story is much the same.

“The mayor said he would walk in with me so I didn’t have to do it by myself. We walked in and the water came back 8-10 feet. I don’t know if the humidity spread it or what, but the damage ended up covering the entire room,” said Director Lou Ann Bowlin. “We haven’t had flooding like this since 1965.”

The Peabody Senior Center had water come in and cover their dining room. Volunteers of all ages, including community members and more, showed up and emptied the room out. They also pulled up layers of carpet and plywood all in one day. Laura Fowler Paulus/Free PressWord spread and volunteers showed up starting Monday morning.

“We got all of the carpet, plywood and nails up in one day. We had a few people from Wichita come up! They knew people here, and they came to help. Everyone did this in one day,” said Bowlin as she pointed to the cleared out dining room. “We even had swim team kids show up and help out. We had so many young people come in and help. They were pulling up nails with crowbars along the wall and sweeping the floors.”

Bowlin expressed deep appreciation for the town and the way everyone chipped in.

“My daughter came in to help. She decided to go and get some water and ice for the volunteers since it was so hot. Her husband came running up to tell us that the bank said to charge the ice and water to them since we are all one community and have to help each other. These are the kind of people helping,” said Bowlin.

The center is open and still serving meals as well as delivering them since the kitchen has no damage to it. The stability seems to be bolstering the older community who continues to show up to help out and visit.

“Even one of our ladies who is 102 is showing up. They want to be here,” said Bowlin.

For those looking to help out, the center can always use volunteers, especially as they work to repair the damage done by the flooding.

To see how you can help, call the center at 620-983-2226.

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