Today is Monday, August 21, 2017

MJ Chamber can help businesses in trying times after flood damage

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By TOMI L. WILEYSpecial to The Wilson PostMT. JULIET -- Floods this past weekend damaged many Mt. Juliet homes and businesses, with some small business owners unsure if they’ll be able to reopen at all – and it’s that sort of mindset other services could prey on, taking desperate business owners for more money than necessary.Mt. Juliet’s Valley Center seems to have been the hardest hit business area, with flood waters reaching several feet, according to city officials making early estimates. Dan Anderson, owner of Anderson’s Amish Furniture, was busy Monday extracting water from the carpet of his 7,000 square foot showroom, and that’s after he raised dozens of pieces of heavy, solid Amish wood furniture off the floor. Anderson said he estimated he had around 4 inches of water in his store, mostly backflow from storm drains in the parking lot that seeped in through the back. He sat, eyes shining, and quietly looked around at the puddles of standing water – and the thousands of dollars of inventory that, while not entirely damaged, he can never sell for the original price.“The furniture actually held up very well,” he said “It’s good stuff. But I’ll be closed… I don’t know for how long. And I’m going to lose money, which leaks into every other part of my life.”It was a similar story at Teach-A-Child, where owners Sonia and Richard Dorer were working amid air blowers drying their carpet. What Sonia originally thought was a leak in their bathroom on Saturday worsened quickly as water poured in through the back of the building, into their office, and then began seeping in along the walls. It turns out a lot of the water was coming from a leak in the roof, which may provide a loophole in insurance claims for storm damage instead of flooding, she said.But, as she looked woefully around at the tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory she now can’t sell and still has to pay for, Sonia said this setback may be it for Teach-A-Child.“We had really turned a corner (financially),” she said, watching her husband trying to dry shelves and walls. “We’d hung on by our teeth for the past three years, and now….” She shrugged, adding that it will most likely be weeks before the store can open again, due to water damage to the walls, which will have to be dried, tested and treated for mold before codes will allow her to open.“Lost inventory is one thing,” she said. “It’s not being able to be open, with our two employees who depend on us, that may sink us.”It’s this defeated attitude, caused by a natural occurrence completely out of their control, that Mt. Juliet/West Wilson County Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hinesley said he’s afraid some service businesses will take advantage of by overcharging and shady dealing. He said he wants businesses in Mt. Juliet to know that the Chamber is a valuable resource when it comes to providing information on local folks who can help during these tough times.“I cringe at the thought of people in Mt. Juliet looking in the Yellow Pages for help when the best is available by calling the Chamber,” Hinesley said Tuesday. “The Chamber of Commerce is ready and able to provide help to any business which may need assistance. We have fielded calls from businesses located in impacted areas such as the Valley Center which experienced water damage and are now in the process of removing inventory, cleaning up and repairing damage caused by the flood waters. Numerous businesses and individuals have offered their assistance as well, as cleanup efforts get underway. Any dislocated business is invited to use the Chamber of Commerce offices and available resources including telecommunications access, meeting space, and office equipment during these difficult times.”But it’s not just businesses that are relying on help from the community right now: the Mt. Juliet Little League fields on Lebanon Road are all but destroyed, yet volunteers continue to show up, clean up and keep their chins up.“We’re not letting something like this stop us,” said Ray Justice, who’s been involved in the League for some 42 years, on Tuesday morning as he helped clean up and salvage what they could at the fields. “We’re in dire straights money-wise, but all we need to play ball is some dirt, some bases and some kids. We’ll get those.”Justice said the fences around the fields “are gone,” as well as the top soil for the infield. The destruction was a direct result of the flash flooding that ripped through the low-lying area carrying logs and debris. Justice said he estimates the damage, which includes field equipment, to between $200,000 - $300,000 at this point. He plans on approaching the Mt. Juliet City Commission this Monday night for additional funds, and he said an Emergency Relief account has been set up at Wilson Bank and Trust to benefit the Little League.“We’ll be thrilled to get any money,” he said. “This is for the kids – it’s always been for the kids. And we have a goal of playing somewhere on those fields on Monday night.”The kids will be able to be back in school, too, today, said Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis on Tuesday. He said that while Rutland Elementary in Mt. Juliet did receive the most damage countywide it was cleaned up and ready to open.Some 75 volunteers helped in the clean up after 2-3 inches of water invaded the school, pushed in by the lake at Del Webb’s Lake Providence across the street. Davis added that he was meeting with the county schools’ transportation department to discuss alternate routes around bridges in the county that are out or damaged.This is the Volunteer State, and the people of Middle Tennessee have pitched in to help their neighbors; and in Wilson County, from Watertown to Old Hickory Lake, people are banding together to rebuild businesses and homes, working to clean up and start over in every capacity.Editor’s Note: Tomi L. Wiley is the editor of The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet. She may be contacted at Editor@thechronicleofmtjuliet.com.
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