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'It's heartbreaking': Flooded Florissant businesses still closed, nearly a month after flood

Most of the businesses are still closed at Florissant Meadows Shopping Center and owners don't know how long it's going to take to reopen.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — The water is long gone, but a Florissant shopping center is still empty nearly a month after the historic flood.

Most of the businesses are still closed at Florissant Meadows Shopping Center and owners don't know how long it's going to take to reopen.

Florissant Mayor Timothy Lowery said they're doing all they can to help those businesses.

If you go to the Florissant Meadows Shopping Center, you'll see a lot of 'temporarily closed' signs.

Business owners like Tina Ditto are pleading for help.

"I'm basically starting my business from scratch. It's heartbreaking, I'm willing to do it," she said.

For Ditto, her business was much more than a livelihood. 

The now-torn-up walls and floors kept Ditto's daughter's spirit alive. 

"My daughter, Melissa, who's in heaven. I hope that she's proud of me, but I hope that she can help me out a little bit right now," she said.

Ditto opened up her photography studio, TSDitto Photography, two years after her daughter tragically passed away in a car accident.

"I decided that I was just gonna go full steam ahead and become the artist that she wanted me to be," she said.

Just as Ditto was about to celebrate her three-year anniversary in the shop, the flood waters came and left her with basically nothing.

"The water came up to the second shelf at the bottom, so everything from that point to the floor was destroyed," she said.

Ditto, like many others in the Florissant Meadows Shopping Center, is now starting over.

"We deserve more than to be ignored and to be passed from one agency to the next to the next," she said.

Mayor Lowery said he drives through that shopping center almost daily, and he knows business owners are really hurting there.

"As much as the city can do, we have done," he said.

Lowery said along with federal agencies on the ground, the city has waived permit fees and helped with the clean-up process.

"We've gotten all the resources here, now, it's just trying to find a way to get these businesses back open," he said.

While no one knows how long that will take, both Lowery and Ditto are hopeful this shopping center will recover.

"People in this community, they depend on us, you know, we are a very important part," Ditto said.

"We are a strong community, here in the city of Florissant, and we're going to get through this. It's just been difficult times right now," Lowery said.

Mayor Lowery said that on Monday, Aug. 22, two businesses were able to open in the center. 

His advice to owners is to take advantage of the Small Business Loans, get a contractor to help them re-build, and as soon as the business owners are good to go, Lowery said, the city is ready to help them re-open.

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