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      Clean up replaces picnics for flood victims on July 4th

      Friends and family gathered in Oneida in Madison County not to celebrate the Fourth of July, but to clean up after floodwaters rose just about a week ago.

      For several flood victims, July 4th was the first time they were able to assess the damage on their homes and businesses, and begin to clean up. Phyllis Noble's Warehouse of Liquidation, which was a community spot for antiques and other furniture, was completely filled after the rains, with water waist-deep at its worst last week. It was a sight Noble cannot get out of her head.

      "I close my eyes at night and see water," Noble, who has worked on her business for four years, says. "I don't want to sleep, because I just see water coming, and there's times when I have's so hard, to work as hard as we did, and to come and see it like this, is just, it's just awful, I can't even explain it to people."

      Today, Noble's friends and family used five dumpsters to remove all of the ruined couches, chairs and other furniture and estimated loss of $40,000-$50,000. She says she was able to salvage some, but not enough to keep her business alive. She says now she will stay in the antique/furniture business, but will not have a warehouse feel, simply because she does not want to get flooded again.

      Noble was appreciative though, of the help she's received from the community. She and her friends even enjoyed a free lunch at the First United Methodist Church in Oneida Thursday afternoon. Workers there said hundreds of flood victims stopped in for a free meal...also donated by members of the community.

      As for July 4th, Noble says she had to postpone an annual picnic she holds at Oneida Lake, where she usually entertains 30-40 people. Just across the street, another family, the Kimhatchs, also had their July 4th plans changed when water levels rose to feet on the first level of their parents home.

      "This is really the first day that we could get in here," William Kimhatch, who's mother and father lived in the house, says. "We had to start doing what we could, so that's why we gave up our Fourth of July picnic, to get these things cleaned up."

      Kimhatch says they're waiting for the City of Oneida to inspect the home, which is when they will know whether or not the home is a complete loss.