IW business flooded

Published 10:33 pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

Water from the Blackwater River at 9:45 a.m. Thursday covered the walkway at Barrett's Landing.

By Gwen Albers

The Tidewater News

Walters Outdoor Power Equipment reopened for business Thursday after more than a foot of water rushed into the building during Tuesday night’s rain, said owner Ted Herrala.

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It was the third time since 1999 the Route 258 business in Isle of Wight County experienced flooding. The worst was in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd left nearly 5½ feet of water inside the lawn equipment store.

Meanwhile, the Blackwater River in Franklin crested at 13.5 feet at 8 p.m. Wednesday, said Matt Scalora, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, the water level was at 13.2 feet and falling, Scalora said.

The Blackwater on Wednesday morning reached 12.3 feet, and minor flooding had occurred in Franklin. Flood stage is 12 feet.

Herrala said the flood waters at Walters Outdoor Power Equipment came from a nearby swamp in the Collosse area after 6½ inches of rain fell between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday.

“It was totally unexpected,” he said. “The water just rose all through the night and around 2 a.m., it came level with the building. Very quickly it was eight inches deep — within 15 to 20 minutes.”

By 11 a.m. Wednesday, the water had receded.

Herrala and his brother, Jim, were at the store when the water came in, and they already had moved much of the equipment to higher ground.

“I came down after receiving so much rain and started to monitor what was happening,” Ted Herrala said.

The flooding destroyed some paperwork, files and brochures, but all of the equipment was saved. On Thursday, the men continued the “de-flooding process” on 100 pieces of equipment, including lawnmowers, chainsaws and weed trimmers. The process involves blowing out the water, drying the equipment, and changing air filters and the oil.

“We already have most of the water mopped out,” Herrala said.

The last time the businesses flooded was in 2006, when a nor’easter storm left eight inches of water in the building.

“We were prepared,” Herrala said. “We were monitoring the rise and knew what it was going to take.”