HAMLET — Several stores are slowly getting back to business after Hurricane Florence left behind leaky or missing roofs, falling tile and water stains as souvenirs.
But some don’t know how long it will take to return to normal, or whether that’s even possible.
“Businesses on Hamlet Avenue had leaks in their building,” Mayor Bill Bayless said late this week, after reviewing damage in town. “And on Main Street, the flower shop had a partial roof collapse, and a vacant building had some upper windows that blew in.”
Bill Horne, owner of the venerable Birmingham Drug on Main Street, said his ceiling and floor took some hard hits during the strong wind and rain wrought by the hurricane.
“The rubber roof was blown out,” Horne said. “But fortunately, we did not sustain much damage” inside the store.
That was because, Horne explained, employees took the added precaution of covering their inventory with plastic trash bags to protect it from water damage.
They couldn’t do that for the ceiling, though. It sustained a number of brown water stains where water collected.
“We’re just waiting for the adjuster to come” to assess the damage, Horne said.
Next-door neighbor Hamlet Florist and Gifts wasn’t as lucky. Owner Carolyn Blue, who has run the shop for nearly 12 years, wasn’t sure what future the store would have, if any.
“There was nothing I could do (to salvage anything),” Blue said. “There was too much water.”
Blue said she visited her shop Saturday, expecting to see her windows blown out. Instead, she was shocked to see her store in tatters.
“The roof was down, the tiles in the ceiling fell, and there was water all over the floor,” she said. Water collected on the flat-top roof, making it an impromptu swimming pool, she said — until the roof finally gave way.
“I was depressed for about three days in a row,” Blue said. “But I’m just thankful that I wasn’t in there when the roof fell in.”
On Hamlet Avenue, Sid Hodges of Sid’s E-Z Pawn Shop also found water damage to his ceiling and floors. Now, he keeps a fan blowing and doors open to air out the shop.
“It could have been worse,” he said optimistically. Hodges said a neighbor down the street, Willie Breeden of Breeden’s Barber Shop, had to close after the shop’s ceiling collapsed.
Breeden could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Bayless said he wasn’t yet sure how the city would help businesses rebuild because damages still were being assessed and the extent of necessary repairs was not yet known.
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]