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Niles Save-A-Lot in danger of closing after flood

NILES, Mich. -- A Niles family-owned business, known for its accessibility and affordability, is in need of help to reopen after February’s historic flood.

“I wasn’t prepared for it in any way, shape or form,” said Steve Eagle. “You know, none of us were.”

Eagle has owned the Save-A-Lot grocery store on N. 2nd Street for the last decade. It’s a building his father first bought in 1990.

Nearly three weeks ago, the St. Joseph River overflowed its banks right into the Eagle family’s business.

It was the first time floodwater got into their store – one of the reasons they don’t have flood insurance.

“I was a mess,” said Jody Eagle, the store’s assistant manager and Steve’s daughter. “I was shaking because I thought [while driving to the store], ‘Oh goodness, if the streets look like this, I can’t imagine what the store looks like right now.’”

“I got a phone call right away and she said, ‘Dad, the store’s flooding. What do I do?’” Steve said.

Jody piled sandbags at the doors while the water rose.

Several days later, the Eagle’s returned to find mud caked across the floor of their store and ruined inventory.

Because the city had to turn the power off in the flood zone, any refrigerated or frozen items the family had displayed in the store or packed away in the back were lost.

“The community counts on us to be here,” Steve said. “They come here every day for their – there’s people I see in here three or four times a day. They’re our family. They’re our friends. They’ve all offered to come in and help. But yeah, God I want to open so bad because it just doesn’t affect me, it affects them.”

The store faces over $100,000 in losses and repairs, meaning the closed sign posted on the front entrance will stay up for now.

The many people who rely on Save-A-Lot for its affordable prices in walking distance are out of luck, and without an adopted family.

“They come in and they’ll specifically look for me or my sister or my dad to tell them something happened with their son, or that their kid just got baptized, or some people come in and they ask, ‘Hey, can you give me a ride up the street? I know you’re busy,’” Jody said, speaking of her customers. ”And that’s something that we will stop everything and make sure there’s a manager here and we’ll go do.”

Despite the devastation, the Eagle’s said they want to rebuild for the neighborhood.

“It’s hard to put into words, but I mean, they’ve been good to us,” Steve said. “The community – they’ve always been good to us. We just want to give that back.”

The family has started a GoFundMe – which you can click here to donate to – to help pay for the floor, walls, ceiling and equipment they have to replace.

There’s no timeline yet for when, or if, Save-A-Lot will reopen.

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