Future Uncertain for Local Business Owners Following Devastation from Flash Flood
When the flash flood struck, Brett and Brandi Bussard and their children were living in the trailer beside their business, Full Throttle X-Tremes located along State Route 66 just north of New Bethlehem. They had planned to live in the trailer until they could remodel their house in Putneyville.
“Of course, that’s probably not going to happen now,” Brett told exploreClarion.com.
Bussard said they were inside the trailer when one of his son’s friends sent a message asking his son about the water rising in their area. They then looked outside and realized the danger.
According to Bussard, by the time they discovered how quickly the water was rising and began attempting to get out, they found they couldn’t open the door of the trailer. They ended up kicking out a window to flee the rising water.
They attempted to yell for help, but the fire department personnel, who had been on the road nearby because of the rising water, had left on another call. They realized they would have to make a break for it, into the fast-moving water.
Bussard said his main concern was for his young daughter, Piper.
“We were trying to get Piper out first and get her to safety,” Bussard noted. “We had to move two or three at a time because there was such a strong current.”
While there were no official rescue crews at the scene, luckily there were bystanders who noticed their struggles and pitched in to help them to safety. The people formed a human chain in the waist-high floodwaters to start helping the family members to dry land as they got out of the trailer.
Brett’s wife, Brandi, was the last to leave the trailer, but that was when things nearly went horribly wrong.
“When we went to get Brandi, the trailer was going. She jumped just as the trailer was breaking loose and floating away, and she got swept away in the current,” he said.
“It was terrifying,” said Brandi. “My feet just went out from under me, and I couldn’t right myself.”
Luckily their son, Cody, was close by and managed to snag her and pull her up out of the water until she could get her footing.
“I don’t know how far I would have gone or what would have happened if he hadn’t grabbed me,” she noted.
After their close call, they watched as the floodwater slammed the trailer, containing all of their belongs, into the side of their business.
“The trailer is a total loss, and very few of the contents were salvageable. It just literally destroyed the entire property,” Brett said.
The trailer belongs to Brett’s parents, Pam and Denny Bussard, who live nearby.
Brandi noted that their vehicles were also flood-damaged, as they were parked nearby.
In addition, four feet of water had swept through their business.
“We didn’t lose a huge amount of inventory there, but everything else.
“It destroyed our parking lot and busted the windows out of the front, and there’s no insurance to cover that because it was flood damage.”
Brett’s parents, who co-own the business, also suffered damage to their home that sits just north of the trailer.
“They had about a foot of water, and from the edge of their yard down is just destroyed,” explained Brett.
While their losses have been difficult, Brett noted that the help they’ve received since the flood has been more than he ever expected. He wanted to thank the many individuals and business owners who lent them equipment, helped them clean up, remove debris, and more; however, they all declined to be named.
With the loss of all of their belongings, the trailer, and the damage to their business, the Bussards aren’t sure what the future will hold.
“I don’t know if we’ll come back from it or not. We’re just trying to get the mess cleaned up, and we’ll have to decide from there.
“It’s such a huge loss all at once, I just don’t know that we can come back.”
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