Some small businesses still battling floods from Saturday’s heavy rains

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Before Saturday’s heavy rains poured down, Maria Brennan and her staff at the Victorian Bakery put sandbags around the backdoor so the water wouldn’t get it. Fortunately, it didn’t she said. However their storage truck was damaged.

“It’s sitting in water,” said Brennan during an interview on Tuesday in front of the bakery. “We lost our box truck, our storage truck. We haven’t opened it to see how much inventory we lost. We store a lot of flour and sugar in there.”

The truck sat in three-to-four feet of water for a few days after the rain, she said. She estimated they lost $5,000 in inventory and two days of production.

“We decided [Monday] night to open, just to go forward, to keep our eyes going forward,” said Brennan about opening on Tuesday. “It’s the only way we can look in the moment because this is our second flood in two years.”

Neighbor Aaron Sampson was around for last year’s flood and others in the past. She helps run Olmsted & Mulhall -- her family's stocks and bonds business -- and they share a parking lot with the Victorian Bakery.

“Normally we get a little water in the back but nothing like this,” said Sampson during an interview in front of her building. “This has been the worst.”

Tuesday, Sampson said they were sitting in their offices in “loud mass confusion.” They had larges fans blowing at curtains and floors. Many of their supplies were destroyed. Some computers and printers worked but some didn't. And their internal phone system was dead.

“It’s never been this bad,” said Sampson. “We had to rip up all the carpet.”

The floods were so high over the weekend that it went up to the shelves, she said. And each time it rains it gets worse and worse. It’s not the amount rainfall that causes the flooding, she said. It floods anytime it rains. Brennan agreed.

“Since they dredged the pond a few years ago to try and stop flooding, it’s become worse,” said Brennan whose bakery is located across the street from Crosstown Parkway Ponds Park.

She said everytime it rains they immediately call the city. The pumps aren’t always working and it takes weeks and sometimes months to drain out all the water. She hopes now the city will initiate conversations with small business owners about their plight.

“It's really disappointing,” said Brennan. “We’re all for-profit businesses around here. We pay into the tax base and at this stage we need the city to listen to small businesses.”

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