Years after the severe flooding of June 2008, a Franklin business owner is in a new office on a second floor.
Now surrounded by new equipment, Darrel Heady of Marshall Investigations has seen his clients come back.
In June 2008 he lost more than $20,000 worth of cameras, recording equipment, computers and files when about 5 feet of sludgy water flooded his Jefferson Street office. He wasn’t required to have flood insurance and didn’t.
Businesses such as Sparkle Cleaners next door to Heady’s old office never reopened after the flood. Others like Mona Rae’s Salon and Marshall Investigations moved to a temporary location before finding a new spot downtown.
Damage: $20,000 worth of cameras, recording equipment, computers and paper files.
Recovery: Moved into his home garage. Received an anonymous donation to help purchase new equipment. Moved into a new office above Henderson Drugs and has since replaced his old equipment with newer technology.
Chumbley’s Auto Repair
Damage: $50,000 worth of auto repair equipment
Recovery: Began replacing tools one by one with his own money. Still hasn’t replaced all of the tools lost in the flood. Between the flood and national recession, business hasn’t recovered to where it was before the flood.
Brick Oven Pizza
Damage: $7,000 in food and $15,000 in damage to pizza business building
Recovery: Had insurance, so was able to replace food and pay for repairs. Used restaurant staff to replace drywall and clean up the restaurants and was reopened within about a week.
Mona Rae’s Salon
Damage: Lost all equipment include furniture, hair dryers and clippers.
Recovery: Moved in at A Zodiac Dream for five months before moving to a new location on North Main Street. Equipment was replaced out of owner’s savings since the business wasn’t insured.
Business owners along Jefferson Street in downtown Franklin didn’t have flood insurance. So when they lost all their equipment, they had to dig into their savings to slowly start replacing the items they lost.
Without a group of loyal customers who kept coming in after the flood, the businesses that are still running in Franklin might have joined the empty storefronts that still scar parts of the downtown five years later.
When Heady reopened his private investigation business out of his garage two months after the flood, he was barely able to take on half of the jobs he had before because he didn’t have enough cameras.
His secretary and retired police officers he contracted with would take their paychecks and hold onto them a week or two until he could come up with the money.
At home, Heady and his wife were finding ways to stretch their food budget while trying to pay their bills, take care of their son with special needs and get the business running again. His wife continued to work, and her income supported the family while he tried to rebuild.
“The bills fell solely on my wife. My money obviously went back into the business. I had a special needs child, so he took quite a bit of the money, so to say money was tight is an understatement. I knew I was going to survive; I knew I was going to make it. I just didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel for quite a while,” he said.
Heady moved into his garage with little except loyal clients who didn’t dump him despite losing all his gear. Heady received an anonymous donation of several thousand dollars, which helped him get new cameras and pay for background checks.
Rachael Barnett, owner of Mona Rae’s Salon, had to ask her children to cut back on summer activities while she saved whatever extra money she had to replace her lost equipment. Clippers, hair dryers and furniture had to be replaced with money she had in savings.
A Zodiac Dream Salon let Barnett and her employees use space in its building for about five months before she could reopen a shop at larger location on North Main Street. Now, the salon is making about the same as it did before the flood, she said.
Richard’s Kitchen on South Main Street saw a few new customers after getting about a foot of water in the fine-dining restaurant and the brick pizza restaurant next door that hadn’t yet opened, owner Richard Goss said.
He lost about $7,000 worth of food in the refrigerators and had about $15,000 of damage to the pizza business building. Goss had insurance and a staff that didn’t have a restaurant to run, so he put them to work helping replace drywall and cleaning up. The restaurant was open again in about a week. Since then, diners came back, and both restaurants have been doing well, he said.
“We had been open for several years so we had built a fairly loyal and steady clientele. I’m thankful that they remained supportive. But it was because of our work and our history that people wanted to support us and they trusted us to keep doing what we do,” Goss said.
Business never came back the same after the flood at Chumbley’s Auto Repair, which suffered as the recession hit about six months after the flood.
Chumbley’s Auto Repair is still without tools lost in the flood after 3 feet of water ran into the shop and destroyed everything that wasn’t up on a shelf or in a drawer. The building was not significantly damaged, but the shop lost $50,000 worth of equipment, owner James Chumbley said. Items such as a welder haven’t been replaced and probably never will because he can’t afford it, he said.
Chumbley’s business has been on South Main Street for 40 years and is one of the closest businesses to Youngs Creek, but he had never seen water on his property until June 7, 2008. He expects he never will again, but the water marks on the bricks of the shop will always remind him of the flood.
Heady hopes to never see water downtown again after trudging through it to try to salvage something out of his business.
He came downtown early Saturday morning when he heard from a friend there was water in his office. He opened the front door to try to let some water into the street and reduce the pressure on windows and walls. Soon he realized he was standing in chemicals as water drained out of the dry cleaner’s business next door.
“The water was above my calf that I was standing in outside in the street. I was too worried about what was going on inside to notice what was going on outside. When the water equalized it was partially because the water rose from the front, but it just never stopped. It just kept rising,” he said.
All of his cameras, files and other equipment he had bought since starting the business in 1995 were gone. Heady had to go through a round of blood tests, too, after being exposed to the floodwaters. His tests came back clean, he said.
Since then he’s moved into a second-floor office above Henderson Drugs, well away from the threat of future floods. After clawing back into business, Heady looks back five years and considers himself lucky.
“I’m still here. The cleaners never recovered; a lot of those other businesses right around me never recovered. Buildings were tore down; people lost their homes,” Heady said.