Disaster Strikes Elmsdale Business
The proximity of the two strip malls along Highway 2 to the Shubie River has resulted in flooding before—but the events of this summer are unprecedented.
“We had prepared for one foot of water and lifted our stock off the floor,” says Kenton Mcnutt, the Business Owner of Quality Auto Parts. “The waters started rising on Friday and kept rising over Saturday. There was a lot of uncertainty, as we didn’t know what would be saved. Although we opened again after two days, we are still waiting for the contractors to cut out the walls that were damaged by the dirty water. If this type of weather is going to become common, it makes you question the location you are in. I have a moderate approach to climate change; I don’t think the sky is falling, but we can’t ignore it.”
Quality Auto Parts was lucky—many businesses are not yet open because they are still clearing up the extensive damage, or waiting for contractors. Some aren’t answering their phones, while other businesses were reluctant to participate in this article because they felt too traumatized by the experience and didn’t want to relive it in any way. Yet others felt that the huge impact on their businesses was nothing compared to the loss of life caused by the flooding, and respectfully declined to participate. Nevertheless, it was clear from the conversations that did take place that the disaster created a huge wave of solidarity and mutual support within our business community.
“My employee James Cole orchestrated our offer to store the products of other businesses in our location until they are up and running again,” says Nick Lunn, Owner of Corridor Auto Sales. “There was no real damage to our business and we had extra space.”
Many businesses are still waiting for the contractors—flooded themselves with claims from the huge number of affected companies—to arrive to fix the damage, but Tina Ross from Elmsdale Design & Print couldn’t wait. She realized that mold would destroy her products within 72 hours, so she called on her employees and a family member to help.
“A guy from one of the other businesses in the mall stopped by my house to let me know that the water was rising fast. When I got there I called some friends to empty the lowest cabinets and shelves. I sealed the doors with vinyl but the water was coming up through the floors. When the rain stopped I was faced with a choice: close the shop or do it ourselves,” says Ross. “We set to work immediately in the dark, without electricity. It was like a horrible Louisiana swamp in there and it stunk after a couple days. My equipment doesn’t like humidity, so we had to get everything out right away. My staff and family were amazing, so we should be up and running by the end of this week, rather than waiting for the contractors. Everyone has been fantastic, businesses and people waiting for service were patient and understanding; nobody got upset.”
Talking to our local business owners, I felt the solidarity that exists in our community and it gave me hope. The climate crisis is here, and the events of this past summer might be the new norm, but the overall sense I received was that our community is resilient, and will stick together and help each other through whatever challenges lie ahead.