FOX47 NEWS - Open for Business, Post-Flood

Jeff Angileri
Jul 16, 2008, 9:46 PM

More than a month after flood waters devastated homes and businesses in southern Wisconsin, life has changed drastically for so many people.

In Columbia County, neighbors are helping neighbors rebuild their lives.

Jenny Augustine, owner of ABC Lettering, calls Art Westergaard an angel, saying she'll never be able to repay him.

After flood waters saturated the City of Columbus, Westergaard used his resources to save her home, her business, and her livelihood.

He actually paid one of his employees to stay at our house for days to help run pumps and gas, she says.

Then he loaded up semis from his trucking company, and moved the printing equipment, paints, brushes, and stencils to the back of his warehouse.

Little communities like this are going to have to work together to help each other make it, says Westergaard, owner of Gambler Express.

The space is smaller than they're what they're used to, and working in 90 degree heat can be stifling, but after being out of business for three weeks, Augustine says she's grateful to have a place to print.

We're up and running and that's the important thing, she says. It's been a little bit harder, the phone lines are still back, and customers don't always know where we're at. But for the most part it's been good and our customers have been great.

Westergaard is housing ABC Lettering rent free. After all he says, so many small town businesses are struggling to stand on thier own, and Augustine and her family are bringing life to what was once an empty warehouse.

I wasn't doing anything with it, says Westergaard. It''ll keep them alive, so they can feed their family. There's going to be some rough times down the road here. And if we don't all work together, we're not going to make it.

Augustine is currently working with FEMA to recoup the cost of the damages to their business.

The process is agonizingly slow, because so many of the financial, insurance, and property records FEMA is asking for, were destroyed in the floods.

As of Monday, FEMA had distributed almost $40 million in aide to Wisconsin residents affected by the floods.

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