The flooding in the 700 block of North Main Street, from the front door of Carts Unlimited. Owner Mack Lester said the water had been higher earlier, halfway up the flower box in the foreground.

Archived Story

Kimberly flood: Not as bad as Irene

Published 10:04pm Monday, October 29, 2012

Mack Lester was unlucky enough to experience Hurricane Sandy twice.

He was on a Carnival cruise to the Bahamas that was cut short because of the storm. The boat rocked and swayed during the entire trip.

“It was kind of rough,” said Lester, who makes the trip annually with friends. He acknowledged it was still fun, “but it could have been more fun.”

When he got back to Suffolk, Lester immediately had to deal with the potential flooding of his business, Carts Unlimited, located in the flood-prone Kimberly area of North Main Street, near a bridge that crosses the Nansemond River.

Lester enlisted help and moved his entire inventory of custom golf carts to a raised platform in the store, creating a maze of tight squeezes.

He stayed at the store for most of Monday, watching the water rise from the nearby river. It washed across the road at each high tide cycle, stretching from his doorway past the service station down the street.

But unlike during Hurricane Irene, when 18 inches of water inundated the building, only a few wet spots on the empty sales floor Monday afternoon betrayed that any water had been in the building at all.

“A couple people said tonight will be worse,” he said. “But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Lester’s best anecdote was one man he saw on his way to work who stopped, took off all his clothes except his boxer shorts and walked through the water, then got dressed again and carried on.

On the other side of the flood, a handful of construction workers from Texas staying at the Super 8 Motel marveled at the high water.

“When we got here Sunday, you could see under the bridge, and now you can’t,” said Adrian Lomas.

Somewhat underestimating the amount of rain that had fallen, he added, “And it’s just been sprinkling. Imagine if it was pouring.”

Several businesses in the area are affected by the flooding, which can occur even during heavy thunderstorms. The city of Suffolk issued a request for proposals for a “Kimberly Bridge Feasibility Study” about three months ago to investigate ways to fix the problem.

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