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Marcus Lemonis

The river community of Grafton, Mo., was slammed by this year’s near-historic flooding, when it saw the adjacent Mississippi River climb to its second-highest level ever recorded — reaching more than 17 feet above flood stage, based on river gauge data.

The St. Louis Dispatch reported that the floodwater brought heavy damage, but also a subsequent outpouring of recovery assistance and donations from people near and far. Those efforts have included at least one unlikely source of charitable help, with Marcus Lemonis — an out-of-town CEO and reality TV personality — making six figures worth of financial contributions to Grafton despite having no prior connection to the community, according to town officials.

Lemonis is the CEO of the RV business, Camping World, and other companies, such as Gander Outdoors (formerly known as Gander Mountain). He is also the host of the CNBC reality show, “The Profit,” which features his interactions and investments with struggling businesses seeking a turnaround.

Lemonis first became aware of the town during this spring’s flooding, when he and CNBC were looking to do a documentary about the Mississippi River. Grafton came onto the radar, and Lemonis made an initial visit.

“I was stunned by the level of flooding,” said Lemonis, who lives 300 miles away in Chicago. “I did not understand the power of the river to overtake a town.”

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