Water-damaged Churchill Square buildings could be closed for months

1 / 3
Churchill Square stores displaced by March flooding set to return this fall

Two days after heavy rain soaked their shops and ruined inventory — helped by last Saturday's windstorm, which tore the roof from the building — Churchill Square businesses are cleaning up.

But it could be months before some of them reopen.

Brad Squires, co-owner of Alpine Country Lodge, said water flattened the retail space of his outdoor gear and apparel store.

"There's extensive damage done inside," he said. Assessors were on the premises Friday.

"Dollar amount, we're not really sure about that. Right now they're dealing with our inventory, and taking out all the damaged inventory. They'll assess all that, and once that's all removed, then they'll get in and see what's done with the actual space."

Next door at Hairitage His N' Hers Hairstyling, owner Beverly Dwyer said she felt relatively lucky that to have minor water damage to some wallpaper and ceiling tiles.

"We just had to get some buckets, and it kind of ran down our mirrors and down the side of our wall," she said.

"I think I was extremely lucky. A couple of day's business lost is not so bad as having the whole place destroyed and having to start from pretty much scratch to get things back running."

Dwyer said she figures she'll be open for business within a couple of hours of power being restored.

Damage ranges from shop to shop

But Sherry George, owner of  Take The Plunge, said damage in her shop is so bad that her staff haven't been allowed back in the building yet. Her store sells a lot of swimwear and pool supplies, and she's concerned about how the closure will hurt business as summer approaches. 

"Every day we're closed, there's loss of revenue, and every day the merchandise sits in the wet surroundings, there's assumingly more damage being done. So time is of the essence," she said, adding that the most important thing was that no one was hurt during the storm and subsequent flooding.

Janine Godwin, wedding event decorator and florist at By Sharpe Design, was dealing with collapsed ceiling tiles and broken glass in a recently redesigned showroom.

"We've got a lot of damage done," she said.

"A lot of our display units have to be thrown out. A lot of the material's broken. A lot of structural pieces, like all the cabinetry and countertops, are all going to need to be replaced. Thank goodness the cooler wasn't destroyed."

The businesses are waiting to find out when the power will be back on.

Charlie Oliver, owner of Martek Morgan-Finch, the company that manages the building, said the roof has been repaired and the building is watertight again. 

"The roof is done," he said. "The problem is so much water went in the building it affected the electrical."

Oliver said drying units are being used to clear the water out, and he said he hopes to know by Tuesday when power will be restored to the building. After that, when shops reopen will depend on the extent of damage. Some will be ready to go almost immediately. Others could take months.

'Losing thousands of dollars a day'

"An extended closure, we can't afford to be closed that long," said Brad Squires at Alpine Country Lodge.

"We're losing thousands of dollars a day at this. We do have insurance for that; however, we'd prefer to get open as quickly as we can. Our customer base is very important to us and we don't want to lose any time with them."

At Take the Plunge, Sherry George said being a self-employed small business owner is already fraught with challenges, but not like what she's experienced this past week.

"This one is, I'm going to say, probably the biggest one I've seen yet, now in my 15th year of business."