WILDWOOD, Mo. - An educational farm featuring llamas and alpacas was devastated by flash floods earlier this week. Julie and Jack Wier must now visit their herd at a friend's farm near Columbia, Illinois while they figure out how to repair their badly damaged property.
The Wiers were on their way back from visiting family in Ohio when they got an alert from Ameren that their power was out. Julie Wier made several phone calls and soon found out storms had taken down countless trees in the Rockwoods Reservation where their farm is located.
The Wiers' son stopped by their farm and saw all the damage caused by a flash flood.
"He said, 'You only have six animals left,'" Wier said. "But then, when he started to feed some grain, they started coming out of the woods."
Twelve members of the Wiers' herd were located, including Liana the llama, who was swept away by the flash flood. Conservationists found her a half-mile from the farm covered by debris, and they carried her home to be reunited with the herd.
Pebbles the llama suffered a broken leg. Wier is hopeful but only time will tell if Pebbles pulls through. The veterinarian said if an infection develops, it could be deadly.
Sadly, one of Wier's alpacas did not survive. Based on the amount of damage on her property, she said she is amazed any of them made it.
Wier said if she had been home, there is a chance she would not have made it either.
"If I hear this terribleness happening outside and I looked out my door and saw my animals drowning, I can't imagine I wouldn't have gone out there and tried to do something," she said.
The rush of water down Hamilton Creek carried rocks of all sizes, from pebbles to small boulders, across the farm. Large sections of land eroded and the Wiers ended up with four inches of mud in their garage.
The fences surrounding and dividing five acres of the farm will need to be replaced.
"Yikes. It's no little thing to replace all this fencing," said Wier.
The Wiers moved to their farm in Wildwood five years ago. They have become somewhat of an attraction for visitors ever since.
"People will come by and park, and then my llamas will come up and they will stand there like they own the world," she said.
After calling for several days, the Wiers spoke with a representative from FEMA Thursday evening (Aug. 29) and learned FEMA would only cover damage inside their garage. FEMA will not cover the cost of any damage outside the home.
Wier estimates the clean up with cost tens of thousands of dollars. An assessor is scheduled to visit the farm next week.
The Wiers are grateful for all the physical and emotional support they have received this week. Now, they are focused on getting their herd back.
"They're my animals, and I want them home," Wier said.