Floodwaters recede quickly

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This time, business owners in Kimberly were ready.

Establishments clustered along North Main Street near where it intersects with the Nansemond River spent part of last week moving their inventory and equipment out of harm’s way ahead of Hurricane Irene’s arrival.

Anna Chapman, one of the owners of a North Main Street building that houses Carts Unlimited and Grafik Trenz, marks the water line in the building’s showroom on Tuesday. The floodwaters receded by Sunday morning.

The Nansemond frequently swells during major rain events, often affecting businesses in the particularly low-lying area of Kimberly, just north of the intersection of North Main Street and Constance Road.

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The investment of time and effort paid dividends after the storm passed. Business owners had only to clean up behind the receding floodwaters, make minor repairs and move their inventory back into position.

“We took all our stuff out Friday,” said Mickey Whisenant, manager of the Supreme gas station. “We closed up Friday night.”

The water rose two feet up the walls of the gas station on Saturday, but it was all gone by Sunday. Whisenant was thankful it wasn’t as bad as a November 2009 nor’easter that pushed water up the riverbank and into the nearby businesses for days.

Nearby at Carts Unlimited and Grafik Trenz, owners Mack Lester and Anna Chapman moved most of the carts and tires in the showroom to a raised platform where the offices are. They used tires to raise the ones that couldn’t fit, but the water knocked them down and damaged four carts, Lester said. He sat in the building Saturday to watch the water rise.

He had to replace the stairs that lead to the platform, as well as some trim around the doors.

Down the road, about a foot of water entered the shop at Major Signs, but very little came into the actual building.

“We spent a lot of time getting everything ready,” owner Charlie Dick said. “It’s all about the preparedness.”

Though Dick was prepared for the flood, though, he suffered damage he didn’t anticipate — a leaky roof. It dripped onto his industrial printer, but a repairman was able to fix it quickly.

“Luckily, it just shorted some kind of fuse out,” Dick said.

But even without major damage, every anticipated flood event eats up valuable time, Dick said.
“It kills time,” he said. Once business owners spend time preparing for the storm, closing during the storm and cleaning up afterward, “It’s a loss of a week.”