Several businesses in New Hartford destroyed by flood waters


NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - While hundreds of homes are badly damaged across the region, many local businesses are as well. This includes several businesses in New Hartford at the Big Apple Plaza on Genesee Street.

"I've been going for 31 years and I've never had anything this devastating hit me in my life," said Rob Dunn, Owner of Music and More. Most of the items inside his store are one of a kind and can never be replaced.

"It just it destroyed me," said Dunn. "I lost over $225,000 worth of merchandise. I had collectable Beatles butchered baby covers. I had Beatles dolls, I had KISS stuff, autographed stuff from 'The Stones,' it was mainly a collectable store.

Dunn says since Friday friends and family members have been helping him clean up. Friends he has not seen in years have stopped by to check on him and he says members of some local bands are also helping him out. Dunn says they are even organizing some sort of benefit concert.

Kathy Peters is the owner of The Life Discovery Christian Book and Gift Store. She describes the past three days as a whirlwind. "I was first here a little after 8 o'clock on Friday morning and it was a river rushing down to the parking lot here. There were waves high enough that you could surf them almost." Peters was able to salvage only about 25-30% of the goods in her store.

The Plaza is also home to the storage location for Bikes and Boards. All of the winter gear was being stored there. Boots, parkas, ski supplies- all destroyed by the flood waters. Owner Mike Johnson says for all of the businesses on the lower part of the plaza, this is a devastating loss. "For me it's an 80 percent loss. It's somewhat recoverable by cleaning but still it'll be shop worn product."

Johnson says this exact same thing happened three years ago, when flood waters rushed over the Seneca Turnpike and into the lower businesses in the plaza. Before reopening the store this time, he wants local officials to check the area out to make sure this won't happen again.

"I think it's something that our local engineers and officials should understand that we're going through and there should be an answer to the problem and not just accepting it happening over and over again," said Dunn.

"It's going to take some time but we will rebuild and for the customers at Life Discovery, we'll be back," said Peters.

Dunn says reopening his business will depend on federal assistance. "If we don't get help I think we're done and after 31 years it's just hard to accept that," said Dunn. "No matter what we're going to make it. It's what I have to do. I can't give up, I'm not one to give up."

FEMA assistance will not be able until President Obama declares it a federal emergency.

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