April 25, 2012 Edition

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Taylor's thriving a year after flood

Nancy Ervin inspects a hybrid tea rose at Taylor's Greenhouse and Nursery in Hoxie. This spring, a year after two feet of water covered the nursery, little or no evidence of the damage can be seen.

John Bland

A year ago this week, repeated rain systems brought flooding to many parts of Northeast Arkansas, along rivers and beyond. Homes, businesses and other structures, as well as major highways, were flooded.

Nancy Ervin, owner of Taylor's Greenhouse and Nursery, just south of Hoxie, was one of many affected and recalled the flooding of a year ago.

Easter Sunday was on April 24 in 2011. "Before the flood, everything (at the nursery) looked so pretty," she said.

The flood at Taylor's came on the night of Tuesday, April 26. The flooding came after levee breaches on Black River at Pocahontas brought floodwaters over a wide swath of land, from an area south of Pocahontas and into Lawrence County.

"We spent all day picking everything up," Ervin said as they anticipated the floodwaters. They concentrated on moving supplies, such as packaged items and chemicals, off the ground.

In a previous flood, they had moved plants, which ended up receiving more damage from high winds than flooding.

That night, the floodwaters quickly spread across the area and rose to a level approximately two feet deep at the nursery.

In addition to her business, the waters also flooded her house, located just across and down the road. Her home contained 13 to 16 inches of water.

"The only way we could get in was with a boat," Ervin said.

For the next two weeks she would live with neighbors Robert and Marie Davis. "I got to know my neighbors very well," Ervin said. After two weeks, the floodwaters receded as quickly as they had come.

During the flood, Nancy took a photo of Robert Davis looking from the edge of their yard onto the floodwaters. She framed the photo and added a scripture verse from Psalm 32:6 which states, "Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them."

When the waters receded, Nancy moved into her son's home, located beside the nursery but high enough off the ground that it did not flood.

"I think I did really well through the whole thing," she said. "There was no need for crying. I just took one day at a time."

Most of all, she received a tremendous amount of help and support from her family, neighbors, church members and friends.

A group of teenage boys came and lifted the heavy, water-soaked trays of dead plants out of the greenhouses. "I'm so glad they came," she said. "Everything had soured and smelled like a pig pen."

Another volunteer that stood out to Ervin is Delores Magee of Walnut Rige, who came out and dumped pots of dead plants. "I don't know how many days she came out."

Members of her church, Arbor Grove Free Will Baptist, as well as members from First Baptist Church in Walnut Ridge, came out to help. "They just all jumped in and helped." They pulled out damaged drywall and put in new, among other things.

Ervin said she estimated a loss of approximately $100,000 in plants, not counting structural damage.

After the flood, Taylor's had a big sale, with surviving plants at half price. A year later, the nursery is fully stocked with beautiful flowers, plants and trees in abundance.

Last September, Ervin was able to move back into her house, which had to be almost completely remodeled.

In the field behind the nursery, a neighboring farmer was busy one recent day readying the field to plant corn for this fall's third Harvest Fest at Taylor's that Ervin's daughter, Lori Simmons, coordinates with other family members and friends.

Ervin said she never considered quitting the business, which she and her mother and dad, the late Betty and William "Bill" Taylor, started around 1975. "I knew I had to come back."

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