Flooded businesses far from "all washed up" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Flooded businesses far from "all washed up"

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MANCHESTER (KWWL) -- Businesses that just six months ago were fighting flood damage are now thriving.

Smitty's Tire and Appliance had the most flood water of the businesses on Manchester's West Main Street.

"Looked like Smitty's Marina, instead of a tire and appliance store," second-generation owner Max Boren said.

Boren said Smitty's is no stranger to raging water.

"We've had seven floods, I believe, since 1999," he said.

Smitty's opened in Manchester in 1955, and 1999 was its first flood. It had another one in 2004, after which Boren raised all the electrical outlets.

"We raised them above the flood line," he said, "thinking that'll never have to happen again, and we won't have to do all our wiring over again."

2008 brought four floods. The flood of 2010, however, was the worst yet.

"It was unbelievable amount of water that all of a sudden that just surged and came in," Boren said.

One wonders why Boren doesn't just move.

"It's location, location, and the highest traffic count in Delaware County is right between us and Hardees," Boren said. He added he has plenty of parking and storage space where the business is currently situated, which he couldn't likely find elsewhere with the same amount of traffic.

"I'm not leaving here unless they drag me out, kicking and screaming," Boren said.

Now his business is back up and running, but he said 2010 ended with a 13 to 14 percent drop in overall sales.

"We actually had a pretty good year going through July, but it was significant," he said.

The flood kicked him and his 18 employees out of the main building on July 23. With all the repairs, they weren't able to move back in until early November, and he said flood insurance doesn't cover lost business.

"So if you're out business, you're out business," Boren said.

At this point, the staff at Smitty's is a well-oiled machine when it comes to flood clean-up.

"We got what we call Flood Mode," sales manager Bill Logan said. "We've all been through it, so we all know what we got to do to get ready for it and what you got to do afterwards to clean up."

Smitty's isn't alone.

"There's about a half a dozen businesses along Main Street that have to deal with the flood pretty consistently," Logan said.

Smitty's got the worst of it, with about six feet of water.

"But whether it's one-foot or six-foot deep, it's still devastating," Logan said. "It's a mess. It smells. There's mud everywhere, and, virtually, you got to clean everything."

"My vanity plates on my truck ought to be, 'Flood Guy,' you know, instead of 'Hawkeyes1' or 'Go Panthers,'" Boren said, laughing.

He said some call him an optimist.

"It could've been worse," he said. "Hopefully, this is the last flood, and we'll pretend that's the way it is until something changes and go from there."

"I don't know how many hundred-year floods we've gone through now, but hopefully we're done," Logan said.

Boren said this January and February have been pretty much on par for sales with last year.

As for the rest of West Main Street, only one building was not able to be re-occupied, according to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Its tenants have moved elsewhere.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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