Residents in one of the Iowa towns inundated with this spring’s flood waters are being urged to continue to show their "community spirit" — and shop locally. Mallory Smith is the community development director in Columbus Junction, a town of 1900 that was flooded by the Iowa River.
"What we’re trying to do is take that spirit of sandbagging and saving the businesses, and reminding people that how you keep those businesses going is with your purchases," Smith says.
According to Smith, the flood created a "small business disaster" in Columbus Junction as the water directly or indirectly affected nearly every business in town, while fewer than 10 homes were damaged. Economart, the largest grocery store in Columbus Junction, was underwater and is closed. "We do, however, have three smaller grocery stores…and so we’re hoping that people that would normally shop in Economart would now start shopping in these smaller grocery stores where we trust they can find everything they’re looking for," Smith says.
Columbus Junction had 13 restaurants, but four were damaged by flood waters and are closed today. "However, nine of (the restaurants) were not and are open and operating and hoping to get back on their feet," Smith says.
Smith is hoping the businesses in her town survive the financial setback of the flood and keep operating in Columbus Junction. "These businesses provide jobs. They pay taxes. They are the volunteers behind the volunteer fire department. They’re the ones that donate to after prom. They’re the ones who help with beautification," she says. "They’re just the pillars of our community."