BLOG | High River businesses devoted to flood rebuild
Longtime local shop owners feel at home, committed in community
True to the saying, the pictures from June 20 and the following days say what hundreds of words cannot.
Looking at those first photos of downtown High River, my mouth dropped and my heart sank — the area had been devastated.
At Pixie Hollow, over 80 per cent of the merchandise was lost. What could be salvaged could not be sold as it needed to be opened and cleaned.
Sandi Rowley and Lisa Sigglekow, the mother-daughter duo that owns the shop, say they never had a doubt that they would rebuild.
"We have had Pixie Hollow for four and a half years. Since my oldest daughter was six-months-old," said Rowley’s daughter Sigglekow.
"Our family, friends and wonderful customers are in High River and we love it here, this is our home."
The pair purchased the building that Pixie Hollow is in last year. Sigglekow says it was a huge step for them, ensuring their store would be a permanent fixture of downtown.
The old building was ravaged on both floors, including the basement that has a dirt and wood foundation. Sigglekow says they are fortunate they had a flood extension on their insurance policy, but say rebuilding has so far been a slow and stressful process.
"We hope that all of the independent, one-of-a-kind shops and services in High River will reopen and thrive. Sandi and I both feel that this is a very important part of the High River community and we want to see it rebuilt stronger and just as vibrant as ever," said Sigglekow.
Austen Jewellers, which has been open since 1990, is another business hit hard by the flood.
"We were the new, young couple to town and the business community, with [my daughter] Elyse being one-year-old. Now she is second generation in the store," says part-owner Joanne Austen.
"High River is home to us and will be for a long time. We will rebuild — but it all takes time and energy. The community welcomed us with open arms when we arrived."
Austen and her husband Wayne were able to move some inventory before the flood ravaged through their store, blowing out their windows and scattering merchandise and displays throughout town.
"We knew we were missing items and that the water had taken them far and gone. A few days ago we received another call from the RCMP that they had another 20 items of jewelry that people had been bringing in," said Austen.
"A few of these items were of great value with our tags still on them indicating the value, but no matter what those individuals might be going through they were still compelled to return them to the right full owners — us. These are a few of our experiences with the kind and good hearted people of High River — to all these people we are forever grateful."