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Volunteers help Left Bank Books recover after flooding

Left Bank Books raised over $20,000 towards flood recovery. The best part is they didn't even ask people to give, the community just came to them.

ST. LOUIS — We continue to hear stories of comradery, as St. Louis continues to dry out from historic flooding.

Community members spent hours cleaning up the basement of a Central West End business on Sunday.

The assistant manager at Left Bank Books, Amber Norris, described this whole experience as overwhelming, in the best possible way.

In just two weeks, the business has already raised over $20,000 for flood recovery.

The best part is, according to Norris, they didn't even ask people to give in the first place, the community just came to them.

"The way the community has rallied around us has been so key," she said.

It's business as usual on the top floor of Left Bank Books, but as soon as you walk downstairs, it's a whole different story. 

Norris said the bookstore got hit hard on Thursday, July 28, which was the second round of heavy rainfall the St. Louis area endured. 

"It was very unexpected, and we definitely never thought that we would be running away from floodwater and saving books," she said.

Six inches of water filled the lower level of the Central West End book shop, according to Norris, and left them with dirt-covered floors, muddy bookshelves and a lot of work. 

"Tragedy like this, in the financial sense, for small businesses is a big hit," she said.

It's a tragedy that's turned into something incredible to watch for Norris, though.

"The recognition of the importance of independent bookstores and independent businesses has been really uplifting," she said.

Norris said community members have shown up day after day and spent hours of their own time cleaning, to help the local bookstore get back on their feet. 

"Every volunteer that's come has had some sort of personal connection with Left Bank and it's been really touching to hear their stories," she said.

Volunteers, like Linda Locke, who has been a customer of Left Bank Books for decades. 

"When you have that kind of connection, then you're compelled to go beyond just being a customer, but being a shelf mud cleaner," she said.

Locke said when she heard about the opportunity to help, she knew she had to get involved.

"It just tears at my heart to think that people are without something that they consider the source of their lifeblood," she said.

While there's still a lot of work left, the business isn't doing it alone.

"It's really a terrific place, a really important part of our community and has been for generations," she said.

Norris said two volunteers who showed up to help a couple of weeks ago actually got engaged in the lower level of the bookstore months before the flooding.

She said they will need another round of volunteers but will post on the shop's social media when they figure out those details.

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