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Manhattan business struggles financially after March flooding

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 22 2014 10:52:36 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 22 2014 11:07:01 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

In early March, water submerged Manhattan's Main Street and damaged multiple businesses.

Governor Steve Bullock asked President Obama earlier this month for emergency funding for 15 Montana counties and seven towns affected by flooding. Manhattan was on Bullock's list.

Several days later, President Obama signed the Montana Disaster Declaration, which allows for federal funding for 15 Montana counties. But Gallatin County was not included.

Manhattan's Gluten Free Prairie bakery owners are now facing uncertainties about their business's future.

"We're a family-owned and operated business built on the American dream," Deb Wheaton said as she read the back of her gluten-free product.

Wheaton was just about to launch Gluten Free Prairie when the flood swept through downtown Manhattan in early March.

"We were two weeks away from our grand opening," Wheaton said.

After the flood, the community came together to help clean up. But now that volunteers have headed home, Wheaton said she is left dealing with a financial mess.

"We're about $60,000 in damages right now," said Wheaton.

Wheaton said they hoped they would be eligible for federal assistance, but when they read Obama's Montana Disaster Declaration, "We found out that Gallatin County has absolutely no assistance coming our way."

The bakery is back up and running, but Wheaton said they're struggling to pay for the repairs, and are barely keeping afloat. They're looking at all possible options for help.

"We're not quitters, we're looking for answers, we're hoping to talk to the right people that have access to the right funds. We need to bridge the gap to continue to run the business," Wheaton said.

She said she hopes to find some way to keep her business alive.

"Someone must place a value on what we've done here -- the value of a small business. We feel like a small town left behind here," Wheaton said.

Wheaton said they have many unanswered questions, like why Gallatin County -- or Manhattan specifically -- was not included in the President's Montana Disaster Declaration.

We are also working to get those questions answered, and we will follow up when we find out.