Businesses avoid major damage


It could have been worse for downtown Findlay businesses, but the latest flood still resulted in damages, lost revenue and costly interruptions.

Some businesses within a block of the Blanchard River escaped damage to showrooms and inventory. But even near-disasters take a toll, said House of Awards and Shoes owner Cathy Linhart. She lost two days of business.

“Even if you don’t get the flooding … Even if you’re blessed, it’s bad,” she said. She was emotional Monday as she worked in pajamas, a sweatshirt and ball cap to replace merchandise and equipment at her store. She and seven others had moved it out of harm’s way Sunday night.

When she hears that a flood is coming, Linhart does not mess around. She lost $100,000 in merchandise and $10,000 in equipment in the 2007 flood.

“I’ve been nuts since Friday. I’m literally nuts. I’m just sick of the flooding,” Linhart said. “They have got to do something. It’s nerve-wracking … when you worry about it. I’m watching the news and everything else.”

Linhart vacillated Monday between laughter and tears, and between gratitude and despair for a flood fix.

“I don’t mean to be sad, but it’s sad. You know what I mean? But I’m so fortunate that I didn’t get water this time. Got to look at God’s way,” she said. “So, I’m happy, but they’ve got to do something. Findlay’s got to do something.”

North of the river, Encore Furniture, 223 N. Main St., would have been dry had it not been for a pickup truck plowing through floodwater Sunday night on Main Street. It pushed a wake into the store, and an inch-and-a-half of water crept into part of the showroom, said owner Bill Davidson.

“If the idiots would not drive through the middle of the road when there’s 4 foot of water, I would not have had any water,” Davidson said. “It’s just people without brains … A half-inch or an inch means a lot.”

Davidson on Monday moved inventory from the higher, rear part of his store back toward the front.
He had kept most of it in the store. He had faced the same dilemma other downtown businesses face: whether to move merchandise and be safe, or to save themselves the bother but risk losing tens of thousands in assets.

Many lost tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars when the National Weather Service underestimated the severity of the 2007 flood.

A forecast for a severe flood last spring prompted Davidson to haul away all of his merchandise.

“And it sucked. I moved out for nothing,” he said. “Well, this time …”

Just north, American Loan Mortgage Corp., 227 N. Main St., did not bother to remove equipment, supplies or furnishings. Monday was business as usual, and President Timothy Runion had a swaggering attitude.

“We did good,” he said. “We figured out a way to beat it.”

Employees walled the building with sandbags and plywood wrapped in heavy-duty plastic sheeting. In the crawl space, a pump ejected water spilling in.

American Mortgage has been foiling floods since 2011.

“(Firefighters) were driving by in canoes and we were in here drinking beer, waving through the window,” Runion said. “We waved to the firemen. They just couldn’t believe it … I had blow-up mattresses. We had a beat-the-flood party.”

Runion credited Barry Simmons, a loan officer.

“He’s the engineer. I just do what he tells me,” Runion said. “We kick Mother Nature right in the teeth.”

Just off the south bank of the river, the red letters flashing in the window at Streicher’s Quick Print told the good news Monday: OPEN … OPEN … OPEN … OPEN … O … P … E … N … OPEN … OPEN …

Streicher’s workers were tending to customers, too. Water had flooded the building’s crawl space, but the rest of the place was dry. Owner Tom Day smiled a little bit.

“We had (equipment, papers, supplies) ready to go out if need be,” he said. “But I didn’t want to move it if I didn’t have to.”

Making the right call came at a price. He traveled between home and the store “about a half-dozen times” Sunday night.

“Fall asleep, wake up. ‘Oh, I better check it’ … Fall asleep, wake up,” Day said. “I wish they would do something.”

Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin



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