Business owners clean, assess damage

Published 10:43 pm Monday, November 16, 2009

After nearly a week of dreary, wet weather, business owners in the Kimberly area adjacent to the Nansemond River in Downtown Suffolk were starting to clean and assess the damage to their flooded buildings on Monday.

“The water was up to my knees coming to the door Thursday,” said Jay Jones, co-owner of Tire Store Two on North Main Street. Jones pointed out two water lines on the building’s interior walls — one from Thursday morning and a much higher one from Friday night.

The counter inside the tire store was stacked Monday with ruined receipt books, business cards, invoices and credit card receipts. Brand-new tires covered with mud and dirt were stacked throughout the store.

“Luckily, we didn’t have any damage to our equipment,” Jones said. “The biggest loss was paper stuff.”

Jones and his business partner, James Everette, found water about a foot high in the store upon arriving Thursday morning. The back lot floods regularly during rain, Jones said, but the water gets into the store only during extended periods of rain, such as hurricanes.

When Jones got to work Friday morning, he was surprised to find no standing water in the store — a result of the low tide. But by Friday night, water was waist-deep in the store when high tide hit the nearby Nansemond River.

By Saturday morning, the waters had receded for good, leaving piles of tires near the entryways where the water had flowed out, dragging the tires with it until the last possible second. The walls of the store are scuffed with tire markings and dirt.

Nearby, Major Signs owner Charlie Dick has been through floods in his shop before. During a remodel about five years ago, he used treated wood in the floors and opted for plywood walls, instead of sheetrock, to minimize flood damage.

His decisions — plus hours spent on Wednesday moving materials off the floor — paid off last week.

“You never know when it’s going to happen again,” Dick said. Only about two inches of water came into his office space last week, and that didn’t do any major damage. He simply mopped and vacuumed up the water and cleaned and disinfected the floors and walls.

The shop in back of the office, however, was a different story. Being closer to the river, it had about 18 inches of water in it last week, Dick said, but was up and running again Monday.

Other businesses in the area also received damage. The Texaco service station and nearby gas station had about three feet of water standing in each, and workers were in the process of cleaning up Monday. The Sapporo Japanese Steak House had a sign on the door Monday turning would-be diners away due to flood damage.

Clean-up workers at the Wendy’s on the east side of the road were at the eatery Monday pumping water out of the restaurant’s kitchen. No employees were there, and the restaurant is closed until further notice.