SANTA CLARA, Washington County — A southern Utah market severely damaged in a flood last fall is back in business, and the owner said it couldn’t have happened without the help of the community.
In September, a retention basin's dike broke, flooding part of Santa Clara and sending enough mud and water into Dutchmans Market to knock it out of business.
"When I was watching it happen, I just had no idea it would be so bad when we came in here," co-owner Nick Frei said.
Officials said 3 ½ inches of rain that came down in a single day caused the dam, possibly weakened by rodent burrows, to break. About 30 homes were damaged when it broke.
Most homeowners have recovered, and with the help of the community, the Dutchmans Market has reopened.
“It’s been a real united effort to make a little convenience store get back on its feet again,” co-owner Liisa Frei said.
Everything had to be taken out of the store — the wood, the glass doors and equipment.
"We didn't have the money to buy new equipment,” she said. “We didn't have the money to buy anything."
As it turned out, they didn't need to have money. The community chipped in to make sure Dutchmans didn't disappear. Youths held a fundraiser, and people donated labor.
"I don't know how to describe it,” Nick Frei said. “It was amazing to have so much support, not only labor-wise, but also financial.”
Even their competition from across the street reached out. They hired a Dutchmans employee so she had a job during the rebuild, and when Dutchmans reopened, she came back.
The market's owners did not have flood insurance, extra money or government assistance when mud flooded it. While the dam break wasn’t their fault, they had no intention of filing a lawsuit for damages.
"It's hard to sue, because when you sue a city, you're suing the community, and we had the community come in, and it just didn't feel right," Liisa Frei said.
The small corner store is more than just a gas station.
"It was the community who built this store," she said.