Rollys looks for help after flood

Co-owners of ice cream shop hope to raise $18,500 to cover cleanup, replacement of equipment



The flood on Grand Avenue left Rollys ice cream damaged by water and mud. Community members helped to make repairs.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen deputy sports editor

Adrian Gayles stared through the broken window. Mud and debris covered the floor and chairs and tables were turned upside down. He couldn’t believe what he saw.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” he said.

The 37-year-old is the co-owner of Rollys ice cream shop on Grand Avenue along with his wife Crystal Gayles. Last Tuesday night, he watched the Missouri Flat Creek flood devastate his store, Kool Nail Design and Spa next door and the rest of the businesses housed within the building at 745 N. Grand Ave.

Heavy rain on April 9 caused the creek to flood and spill onto Grand, turning the street into a raging river.

The flood caused significant damage to the ice cream shop and, on Saturday Rollys started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to pay for the cleanup and replacement of equipment.

Crystal said the cleanup cost is around $11,000, and they will have to foot about a $5,000 bill to replace the ice cream equipment that was lost.

“It’s totally up to us to get the place back to usable space,” she said.

The property owner has flood insurance, but only certain areas of the building are covered per their policy, Crystal said. The couple has business insurance for the shop, which covers water damage, but not from a natural disaster like a flood, so they have to pay for all the damage on their own.

Crystal said the estimated damage so far is way more than they expected and doesn’t include the cost to repair the walls which she expects to be around another $5,000.

They have a goal of raising $18,500 on their GoFundMe page and as of 5 p.m. Monday they had received $350 in donations.

Crystal said if people get behind them and start donating, they could be back up and running in no time.

Members of the Sigma Pi fraternity helped the Gayles’ clean up the outside and inside of their shop the morning after the flood.

Crystal said she plans to set a date for a cleanup day later this week so people can come help. She hopes if enough people come out, they won’t have to pay the $11,000 bill to clean up the business. Crystal will announce the cleanup day through the Rollys Facebook page.

Crystal said she was at home on the day of the flood when she received a call from the building owner around 5 p.m. informing her that there had been reports of water flowing into businesses. She had just left the shop 15 minutes prior and everything was perfectly fine.

Crystal called the two employees working at the shop at the time, Mikayla Palmer and Alyssa Friel, and they informed her that water was coming through the front door.

She rushed to the store and when she arrived, she called her husband and told him there were 1.5 inches of water on the floor.

Adrian brought sandbags around 5:30 p.m. and they attempted to push the water out. They were able to get the water level down to about a quarter inch by 5:45 p.m. before Adrian and his wife stepped out the back door.

Adrian said they were only outside for a few seconds before they heard their two employees start yelling. When they walked back inside, there was now a foot of water inside their store and within three minutes there were 3 feet.

“It was unbelievably fast,” Adrian said. “If you were walking down the sidewalk at that time, there would have been absolutely nothing you could’ve done to get out of it. You would have gotten swept away no question.”

Once Adrian realized how bad it was getting, he ran out to his truck minutes later and pulled it out of the parking lot. He parked his truck on a hill next to the Normandy Apartments, got out and knew he had to go back for his wife and two employees immediately or else they would be trapped.

Adrian got to back to the store and the four of them began a dangerous trek. When they got outside the front of the building, the sidewalk was filled with rushing water. But Adrian noticed the bushes off to the side were breaking up the rushing water and clearing them a safer path.

They reached a concrete wall barrier on the outside of the northwest corner of the building and Adrian could see his truck. All they had to do was cross a parking lot filled with raging water.

“I was just like, ‘You guys just keep following me, we’ll make it, I promise,’ ” Adrian said.

Wading through waist-deep water, Adrian went for it. Before he knew it he was swept off his feet and underwater.

He got up and looked back toward his wife. His two employees got scared once they saw Adrian fall and decided to cross Grand and head for the Mobil Gas Station.

Adrian quickly grabbed his wife’s hand and pulled her through the current to his truck after fighting through the water for about 40 minutes. He drove her home around 6:30 p.m. and then returned to make sure his employees were safe.

“They’re my responsibility until they get home and I couldn’t just leave them,” Adrian said.

From 7 p.m. until about 9:30 p.m., Adrian attempted to get his employees from the gas station. Luckily, a front loader was able to pick up his employees and get them to safety and Adrian drove them home from there.

Adrian said what happened to him, his wife and employees were something he’s only ever seen on TV and never expected to witness firsthand.

“It was not a game, it was real life,” Adrian said.

Adrian and Crystal returned to the ice cream shop the following morning to assess the damage.

Adrian said firefighters had to shatter one of the front windows on the nail salon next door in order to save people trapped inside, including a 7-year-old and an infant.

“It was a nightmare,” he said.

Adrian isn’t worried about the damage to the shop, which opened in October, and is just happy everyone got out safely.

“I mean [the damage] is replaceable, lives aren’t,” he said.

The Gayles saved money for years to open the ice cream shop originally and poured in an estimated $42,000 to get it up and running.

They are now focused on cleaning up and getting Rollys reopened as soon as possible.

“We’ll get her back up and running,” Adrian said. “We’re going to pull through this, it’s what we do.”