BRATTLEBORO — Business owners have picked up the pieces with help from the community and some are reopening their doors to the public for the first time since they were flooded out.
"It's been very, very difficult, especially with the whole bureaucracy behind it," said owner of North End Butchers, Chris Barry. "This has been an eye opening experience for me because I've learned that the community is amazing and our customer base is incredibly loyal."
According to the building landord, Sandy Harris, the businesses at Black Mountain Square have had "Hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss in income, inventory and repairs."
Several of the businesses located at the Black Mountain Square were deeply affected by a rainstorm that deposited nearly four inches of rain on the town, when a plug in a sewer pipe gave way and foul water flooded into a number of the businesses in the plaza on Sept. 30. As of Oct. 9 it was unknown who would take responsibility for the damages, and that issue remains unresolved.
"Right now, all the damages are not all paid for, and as far as insurance goes we feel that we have only received a portion of what we feel is due to us" said Barry. "No one in the sense of insurance is stepping up to the plate and saying 'we'll help you out.'"
Barry, who hopes to have his shop open today, has replaced the flooring, disposed of base boards, repainted and endured heavy product loss. Barry said that the flooring repairs and reconstruction have cost the store about $15,000, which does not include inventory, payroll and the loss of revenue over five weeks.
Fortunately, Barry's purveyors have given him a grace period for his inventory, which will allow North End Butchers to sell now and pay for the products at a later time.
Despite the lack of help from insurers, both Barry and Marty Ramsburg, co-owner of Windham Wines, say that the community has shown enormous support through this trying time.
"Right after the article was in the Reformer, we received so many personal emails and people coming by who offered support in many different ways" said Ramsburg. "I think it's just testimony to what a great community we live in, but also that when you have this kind of bricks and mortar business, you really do get to know people, and we always think of our customers as more than just customers." Ramsburg said that since the flood, Windham Wines and it's supporters have spent a great deal of their time cleaning, which has included removing everything from the store except for the lights and back wall, including a refrigerator and dishwasher.
"Every dish and every bottle has been washed" said Ramsburg.
Aside from the cleaning, Windham Wines has also repainted and replaced the cork flooring and walls in the bathroom.
"We used this as an opportunity to remodel" said Ramsburg, who looked at this mishap with a positive spin. Windham Wines reopened their doors to the public Friday afternoon and will host their first private tasting since the incident on Nov. 14.
Ramsburg says at this point their company has paid for the repairs, but hopes to be reimbursed by their own insurance company in the near future. In addition, well over the majority of sanitation work inside the store was paid for by Liberty Mutual, which is the insurance of landlord, Sandy Harris.
"I want to give a real plug to Sandy Harris who has done a lot of the work herself," said Ramsburg. "She has been here every day since that backup and has mostly worked for a lot of the other units as well."
"We had a day where about 30 people showed up to help us move all the stuff out of the storage bins, and restocked our shelves for us" said Barry. In addition to their customer base of assistance, Barry noted that a group from the Rotary Club offered cleanup help.
Since the flooding, North End Butchers and Windham Wines installed a door between their walls to allow easy customer access to and from the two stores.
"Thankfully we're coming into the holiday season, so from there we hope to be on a good roll as we usually are until the first of the new year," said Barry.
The two neighboring stores are not the only businesses in the square that have received the short end of the stick. Every business except for Black Mountain Trading Co., BRW Electronics and Brattleboro Savings and Loan was forced to close due to the flooding. However both BRW and Brattleboro Savings & Loan did endure significant damages.
U.S. Cellular was closed for three weeks and reopened its doors to the public Oct. 23, whereas Lawton Floor Designs has endured five weeks of no business and repairs. "We don't know our exact number yet, but we're somewhere between $35,000 to $50,000, which is just the costs of repair," said Lawton Floor Designs owner Matt Henry. "We hope it never floods again and that all the stores here get back what they lost."
"The businesses need support right now to get back on their feet, so hopefully the general public in Brattleboro will be the community I know they are and come back and help us" said Harris.