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Back in business in Silver Creek

August 30, 2009
Observer Today


OBSERVER Staff Writer

SILVER CREEK - While some businesses in Silver Creek and Hanover were forced to temporarily close their doors due to flood damage, others less impacted opened theirs to assist a community in need.

Article Photos

Photo by John Carney
The mobile home park affected most by the flood remains in disrepair.

In the midst of the devastation which enveloped the region following heavy rains and severe flooding three weeks ago, local businesses facing significant flood damage have been able to recover, many with help from family, friends and fellow business owners. Those spared from the destruction, on the other hand, responded to the plight of flood victims with support and solidarity, becoming centers for donations and resources.

"We lost everything (in the flood), but we've reopened since then," Mary Jo Morabito, owner of Hanford Market, said. "We had to get back open; this is our paychecks."

Hanford Market, located on Routes 5 and 20 in Hanover, was forced to close for 10 days following the storm, according to Morabito, when the entire building became flooded, leaving equipment and product in ruins. Since the flood, however, she has begun to replace destroyed equipment and restock shelves in order to serve her customers.

Recovery at Hanford Markets will be a prolonged process, Morabito indicated, though business has already begun to get back to normal since reopening a little more than a week ago. In addition, Morabito said she plans to apply for federal assistance should a Presidential Disaster Declaration be made.

Differing effects

Exelco Developments Inc., off Main Street in Silver Creek, also suffered heavy, and costly, damages in the flood. The plant was inundated with 56 inches of water in its back three bays, Philip J. Azzarella, chief financial officer at Newbrook Machine Corps, Exelco's sister company, said. The high volume of water blew out the wall of the plant's sand blast pit and third bay; buckled overhead doors in the second and third bays; caused significant damage to the water jet machine; left all welders submerged; and damaged lots of equipment and employee tools.

"The losses were significant," Azzarella explained. "We've put over 2,000 hours of cleanup in so far, in two and a half weeks."

Employees are just getting back to work in the second and third bays, he said, though there's still no production in the first bay as workers continue to focus on cleanup there. While he said it's likely they will be finding mud in the plant for years to come, Azzarella said he expects to be back at full capacity in another two to three weeks.

Newbrook, on the other hand, which sits directly across from the devastated Silver Village Mobile Home Park, received little damage, Azzarella added, with the exception of some water in the basement and maintenance wells beneath some machines.

"They were just simple pump-outs and we were back up and running," he explained. "(The flood) really wasn't an issue for Newbrook."

Just Pets, located on Routes 5 and 20 in Irving near Cattaraugus Creek, was flooded with almost two feet of water throughout the store, according to owner Annette Logan, forcing the evacuation of every animal due to the loss of power. Once the water receded, she said she and her husband were left to clean up a layer of mud, which was accomplished with squeegees, shop vacs, power washers, and help from friends and family.

'Major inconvenience'

In all, the business was closed for three days, reopening on Aug. 13. After preliminary assessments, Logan said she doesn't feel there was significant damage to the interior of the building and they don't have plans to seek federal assistance.

"Business has been slightly down," Logan explained, adding "... I don't think it will affect our business too much down the road."

Sally Crisanti, owner of Uncle Sam's Unlimited on Central Avenue in Silver Creek, said her store fared well considering the fate of the surrounding area. Although Crisanti lost some merchandise in storage when the store basement was flooded, she said nothing was damaged in the store itself.

All said and done, she's confident her business will make a full recovery.

"There was nothing here but just a major inconvenience," Crisanti explained. "... No regular merchandise in the store was actually damaged, it was just stuff in storage."

Ultimately, the help of several friends who came to man the store and haul wet merchandise out of the basement eased the burden on her during cleanup efforts.

"We're very appreciative of that," she said.

Crisanti was able to remain open throughout the ordeal, even attempting to offer some relief to flood victims.

Similarly, officials at Petri's Baking Products said flood damage at the plant was minimal compared to the surrounding community. They offered their condolences to the numerous flood victims throughout the community and wishes for a speedy recovery.

"We are fine and we're just concerned about the people who were really devastated and lost everything," a spokeswoman said.

In addition, numerous other businesses throughout the village and township were left to deal with varying degrees of flood damage over the past several weeks. According to Hanover Supervisor Katherine Tampio, Hole-Parker Funeral Chapel is back in business after extensive damage and cleanup efforts; Stagecoach West experienced significant flooding, but has since reopened and held a flood sale; Valvo's Candies Inc. has received health department approval and reopened after being flooded with 6-8 inches of water; J&N Enterprises reported flood damage in its office buildings; and Gernatt Asphalt reported heavy damages to both its equipment and offices.

"They're doing well, but we're all waiting for the FEMA declaration," Tampio said.

New store offers help

Even without structural damage, though, some store owners suffered in the aftermath of the flood from lack of business.

Best Friends Country Store, located on Central Avenue only a short distance from Silver Village Mobile Home Park, opened in Silver Creek only three months prior to the flood and, while the store was left free from damage, the owners were not spared by the flood. According to co-owner Sam Delucci, the store suffered from a lack of business for nearly two full weeks, which he explained can be detrimental to a new business. Only this past week has the store begun to make sales again, he added.

However, even though neither Delucci nor his business partner are from this area, they used the opportunity to assist others less fortunate.

"We were one of the few stores that didn't get flooded," Delucci explained. "We kept our store open and we volunteered throughout the community instead of just closing our doors and going home ... The important thing was helping the people that welcomed us here in Silver Creek."

Delucci said they assisted in cleaning out the basement of Uncle Sam's Unlimited, even stripping their own racks of merchandise and offering them to Crisanti to dry her flooded merchandise. Store owners also donated jeans, summer clothes and flip-flops to the Silver Creek Amvets for flood victims, and assisted with collecting and distributing resources for the organization.

As of this past week, Delucci said his business is once again beginning to make sales, and he expects the store to make a full recovery with time.

The Creation Station, located on Central Avenue near Uncle Sam's Unlimited and Best Friends Country Store, also avoided flood damage, though closing for two days until the chaos following the flood subsided.

"We got lucky," owner Cindy Gailey said.

Since the flood, she said business has slowly been getting back to normal. For the time being, however, Gailey has focused on collecting donations for flood victims, as well as donating items herself for Chinese auctions and various benefits to raise funds to help those in need.

"Basically, we're just trying to donate whatever we can for the Chinese auctions and benefits," Gailey explained. "Whoever comes in, we try to let them know what people need ... Everybody along the whole road is trying to do what they can."

In addition, according to Silver Creek Mayor Kurt Lindstrom, The Ruben Brown Foundation - which raises money for The Salvation Army through the annual Ruben's Motorcycle Run - will be donating two industrial-size de-humidifiers to the village for any businesses which may still be recovering from the flood.

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