When Joaquin “Wook” Torrans and his wife Jennifer Bernard purchased Boiling Springs Resort in late 2015, they were met only a matter of weeks later by a catastrophic rain event that caused the Big Piney River to go way over its banks and ruin almost everything they had just invested in.
Their reaction to the disastrous flood was to hunker down and rebuild. In doing so, they discovered they were surrounded by a huge amount of support by local citizens.
Fast-forward to late April 2017, and disaster struck again – only worse. The recent flooding event topped the first one in a big way, and this time almost everything at the resort was destroyed, much of it literally floating down the Big Piney, which at 36-feet was deeper than ever before recorded.
Torrans’ and Bernard’s reaction?
“We’re going to rebuild again,” Bernard said. “The first 24 hours were really hard – we contemplated moving to Mexico and felt like changing our names, but we thought things over and we’re going to start over again.”
Eight of the resort’s nine cabin rental units were swept away in the flood, along with the doublewide trailer home Torrans, Bernard and their two children lived in. The iconic general store was wiped out, and water went over the top of the adjacent triplex unit.
The only structures that escaped destruction were a cinderblock shower house near the back of the RV parking area and a shop building erected by Torrans on a bit of high ground on the north side of the property.
“We found my grandmother’s Pyrex bowls sitting unbroken in the mud,” Bernard said. “That was weird.”
This time, the resort rebuild will be approached differently, with a more mobile result in mind. Torrans and Bernard have a background that includes working in the theater production field, and helped orchestrate large rock concerts. They even worked on a Super Bowl halftime show.
“Wook said ‘why don’t we do it like a rock and roll show where noting is permanently installed and everything can come out?'” Bernard said. “I think that’s going to be our solution; we’re not going to build any permanent structures – everything’s going to be on wheels. We would really like to do cabins again, but they would be set up so they could be trailered out.
“We once worked on a U2 concert and it took 18 semi-trucks to do the show. All that stuff comes in and it all goes away. It’s all temporary.”
Accepting that “it happened again” wasn’t easy.
“I actually didn’t even look at it with my own two eyes until yesterday,” Bernard said. “I watched a lot of the first one, but it just makes things worse. It’s like watching somebody die.”
Following the latest flood, area residents rallied again – big time – to help in the resort clean-up effort.
“We had so many people help us last time, and that was before we even knew anyone,” Bernard said. “This time we have this whole new family of guests and friends. And this is such a special place, and we really want to bring it back for everybody.
“It’s a good thing for the whole county; people who come here don’t just spend money at the camp, they also spend at gas stations, restaurants, stores and lots of other places.”
Unlike in 2015, Torrans and Bernard had about 48 hours notice for the recent flood and managed to save lots of furniture, appliances, boats, kayaks and other possessions. They had major help.
“They’ll always be called ‘Team Hercules,'” Bernard said. “It was like a parade of stuff going up the hill. I don’t know how they did what they did.”
While weathering the weather, so to speak, the family took refuge nearby at Bernard’s mother’s house. Workers from the commissary at Fort Leonard Wood brought a load of food to the weary flood victims.
“There was furniture in it, the electricity was on, the Internet was on and the kids could watch cartoons,” she said. “If I had been at a motel, I would probably be coming unglued right now.”
Bernard said she never dreamed she would have so much experience in living through catastrophic events.
“From last time, I got bachelor’s degree in how to recover from a disaster,” she said. “Now I’m getting my master’s degree.”
Ever since the first flood, Bernard has been dreading an encore.
“I’ve been kind of holding my breath waiting for it to happen again,” she said. “So for me it’s kind of a relief to know that the thing I was really scared of has happened and we survived and everybody’s OK, and now we’re just going to make another plan and do another thing.”
Amazingly, Torrans and Bernard hope to reopen the resort in some capacity by Memorial Day weekend.
“Even if it’s just RV parking, tent camping and cold beer for sale, we’ll have something,” Bernard said.
TO HELP IN THE RECOVERY
A “Go Fund Me” account has been started to provide financial assistance to Boiling Springs Resort. For more information, call 573-674-3488.