MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - A Manitou Springs business owner and her family are off to a fresh start Thursday thanks to one local company's generous gesture.
Angie Findley feared Friday's flash flood wiped out her family financially. Findley was storing $75,000 of merchandise in the basement of her family's sign and decal business along Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs.
"It's what we were surviving on," said Findley, gesturing to a massive pile of clothes.
She spent the past three years collecting high-end clothes. She purchases the used clothes and sells them on eBay. It's her family's financial safety net while they wait for their sign and decal business in Manitou to take off.
On Friday, flash floodwaters broke open their business' back door and flooded their basement with more than three feet of water. It coated everything in the basement with a thick layer of mud.
Findley, her family and volunteers spent three days power spraying the clothes.
"Some of the pants were about 40 pounds covered in mud," said Findley.
Findley needed a professional cleaner to save the clothes. She would have to shell out at least $3,000 for the job. She couldn't afford it.
"I don't know what we would have done," said Findley.
Findley said Sunday she didn't know if she could weather the storm.
Findley's mom called Fresh Start, a commercial cleaning service affiliated with Goodwill. It hires those who have difficulty finding jobs, including people with disabilities and people on welfare.
"I received a phone call on Monday morning. It was Angie's mother," said Fresh Start's Tom Pliszaa. "She was looking for a laundry to help her daughter out and she was having no success. I said, 'I think this is something we can do.'"
Fresh Start picked up Findley's 1,200-pound pile of muddy clothes in Manitou Springs. Findley was cautiously optimistic -- she knew the job wouldn't be easy.
"The amount didn't bother me but the amount of soil concerned me a little bit, especially on the whites," said Pliszaa.
"I knew we could get it clean but how much could we save of the clothes? That was my question," said Fresh Start engineer Stefan Argus.
The state-of-the-art facility knew what to do. It handles 6 million pounds of laundry each year. It washes 35,000 pounds of laundry daily. It brainstormed a formula to attack the clothes' toughest stains. Despite its hard work, Fresh Start didn't ask Findley for a dime.
"We saved all of her linen," said Pliszaa.
"(Pliszaa) said he got it all clean and I honestly didn't believe it," said Findley.
Findley thinks she'll be able to sell $40,000 of clothes on eBay. The rest she leaves in front of her store for disaster victims for free.
"You didn't just save a small business, you saved our family because this is our income, this is what pays our bills and its our savings," said Findley. "I just want to say thanks to Tom, he saved us."
Just like its name, it gave Findley and her family a fresh start.