Businesses affected by hurricane

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2016

As the recovery from Hurricane Matthew continues, many businesses were just getting back open on Wednesday after suffering power outages, flooding and other losses.

Downtown lunch favorite Chick-fil-A was closed Monday and part of Tuesday, but business was hopping as usual on Wednesday.

A transformer blew during the storm, owner operator Nicki Dalton said.

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“We did have partial power, but we couldn’t conduct business,” she said.

The walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer were out of commission, but employees were able to save some food by putting it in the refrigerators, which were still working, or storing it at other Chick-fil-A restaurants.

“We did lose quite a bit, but not everything,” she said.

She said the store appreciated Dominion Virginia Power’s quick work to get them back online.

“They did come out Monday night, but schools were out and hospitals were out, so we were not high up on the list yet,” she said.

The restaurant got power back about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and reopened about 3 p.m. after getting a delivery of food from its local supplier. The restaurant kept customers updated on Facebook the entire time.

“Our customers are awesome,” she said. “We’ve been really busy. The community support is really cool.”

Down the street, Major Signs owner Charlie Dick said he was surprised by how bad the storm was. Typically, he prepares ahead of storms, because his area of North Main Street floods often.

“A lot of times, we prepare and get everything lifted up,” he said. “But I thought that thing was out to sea until it rained three days straight.”

He said there was about 14 inches of water in the main shop and more than three feet in the back building. He lost a lot of materials and tools.

“We left a lot of stuff in harm’s way on the floor,” he said. “Some of our saws bit the dust.”

However, there’s no permanent building damage, because he renovated the building after prior floods to make it flood-resistant.

“The walls are plywood, not sheetrock,” he said, adding Hurricane Dennis in 1999 was the last straw before the renovation. “We didn’t want to be in that boat again,” he quipped.

On West Washington Street, That Good BBQ was just reopening Wednesday after dealing with electrical issues caused by roof leaks and the power outage.

“All of our exhaust system shut down on us,” owner Barry Day said.

The store also had to throw out thousands of dollars worth of meat and other food.

“It was painful,” Day said.

But customers had been very supportive on the first day back in action, he said.

“It’s been great,” he said. “They’re glad to see we’re back at it.”

On the other hand, the aftermath of the hurricane has made some businesses busier.

State Farm insurance agent B.J. Willie estimated he had seen about 50 or 60 claims for auto and home insurance.

Some homeowners were learning a hard lesson when it comes to flood insurance, which is not included in regular homeowners’ insurance and must be purchased separately.

“Never think that you’re not in a flood zone,” Willie said. “It could happen. The rain, at that pace, can back up any system.”

About 11 inches of rain fell on Suffolk during the storm.

“We’re just here to give the best service possible and help them through the loss,” he said.

Car dealership owner Mike Duman said Wednesday that he had already sold four vehicles to customers replacing flooded vehicles. Remembering Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which generated his best month of sales ever, he anticipates more in the coming days.

His dealership is offering customers several incentives, including 90 days interest-free to receive their insurance settlement to pay for their new vehicle.

He has also put 10 additional rental cars into service for his rental business.