Residents of Simonton face flood recovery hand in hand

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SIMONTON, TX – Simonton may be a small town (Population: 814), but they’re suffering BIG from the floods. Many families returned to their homes for the first time Monday only to find layers and layers of mud and mildew.

“The devastation, the smell,” says Melissa McCall, who had four feet of water in her house, “it’s just… it’s just overwhelming.”

Sheri Buck had a similar experience but was ready to start cleaning up.  Then she had a scary realization. “You don’t have anywhere to set a box,” she says, “because everything’s covered in sludge.”

“I think the worst part of it so far has been having a beautiful home that’s just destroyed in one day,” says Lynda Bauer, who saw nine inches of water inside. Trying to find a silver lining through tears, she adds, “I have a great family and friends who are helping me.”

And that’s the story all over this little town, especially at Simonton Community Church. “These are our people. This is our community,” says the church’s school administrator Amy Oglesby, “You can come here and get fed. We have dinners every night, starting at 6 o’clock. You can get a tetanus shot. You can have childcare…. and we’re offering help to get their houses cleaned up.”

The American Red Cross is also in town. “We understood it was the first day to be back in their homes,” says Denise McClendon, who arrived in town Monday, “so we were definitely concerned about their mental health issues and just how they were gonna deal with what they were seeing.”

They also wanted to help folks begin cleaning up, so they brought free cleaning supplies to get them started. The bleach, mops, rubber gloves and paper towels are being distributed down at the Red Potato Market barn. Debra Sabrsula runs the barn and the antique shop next door. “We put on social media the needs that the residents have,” she explains, “and it’s amazing the neighbors in the surrounding community bring supplies in, and we distribute it back.”

“It’s very, very thoughtful and very convenient,” says Buck, “so that you don’t have to go spend extra money or run into town when you don’t have time.”

Hundreds of supplies have been handed out so far, but almost as many hugs. When you’re facing devastation like Simonton has seen, sometimes that is the best medicine.

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