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Husband and wife rebuild flooded supermarket.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, 1982, George Overschmidt decided to leave his Buy-Rite IGA to drive to the nearby mill and check the water level in the Boubeuse River. The river appeared to be dropping so he returned to the supermarket, anticipating a busier than usual day as people who had stayed in all week because of the rain came out to shop. He was wrong.

He and his wife, Genie, were on the brink of a day they will never forget. By 10 a.m. the first water from the flooded river was reaching onto the parking lot. At noon, the water level was even with the door. The owners and their employees scrambled to protect the Union, Mo., market from water rising three inches every 15 minutes.

"We called Wetterau and they sent a truck down to remove merchandise, but the truck couldn't get through because of an accident on the highway," says Genie Overschmidt. "We tried to get the frozen food out first, but we were surrounded by water--there was nowhere to take it."

At 3:45 p.m., the walls broke through allowing more than eight feet of water into the market. They finally decided to stop fighting Mother Nature and were taken away by boat. "There was nothing we could do but now off and leave it," Mrs. Overschmidt says.

Her frustration for the day was not over yet. Since she had always brought home groceries from the store every evening, she had no food in the house and had to visit her busy competition to buy meat for dinner.

When the flood waters receded five days later, the Overschmidts returned to the store to review the damage. They removed everything during the next two weeks and then, at Christmas, set to work to put Buy-Rite IGA back together again. After four months of 80-hour weeks and extensive help from family members and employees, the independent was able to reopen, just in time for Easter.

"Until you see something that's been flooded, you could never imgine how dirty water can be," Mrs. Overschmidt says. "We had to practically scrub down the store with toothbrushes to get all the grime. We were just fortunate to receive so much help from our employees, church organizations and others."

The Overschmidts rebuilt the 13,500-square-foot super to look exactly as it had before the flood. Although they lost $450,000 on that dreary December day $(500,000 in damage minus $50,000 in insurance collected), the couple never even thought of quitting the grocery business. As Mrs. Overschmidt says, "After being grocers for 28 years, we didn't think about anything but getting our supermarket back in business."

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Title Annotation:George and Genie Overschmidt
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Mar 1, 1984
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