Central VA Businesses Facing Storm's Economic Impact
Businesses throughout the region are starting to assess the impact of Friday's storm, and for many, things are not looking good.
Normally this would have been a booming week because of the Fourth of July holiday, but instead of helping customers, many business owners are now spending their time cleaning up the devastation.
"We would have been full every night for 10 days in a row," said Cynthia Bruce, the owner of High Meadows Inn in Scottsville.
The storm tore away tops of trees on the property of the inn, and left some trees so damaged that Bruce says they'll have to be taken down so they don't fall on anyone. In addition, the storm tore down a sign that cost several thousand dollars, took down an air conditioning unit, and left the inn without power up until Wednesday. All of their produce spoiled, and they had to turn away all their customers.
"Our week is dead. We have cancelled everyone," Bruce said.
The Orchard House Bed and Breakfast in Lovingston is also facing hardship. The vineyard on the side of the house, that owner Richard Bulissa and his wife Deborah planted by hand five years ago, is almost completely wiped out. Even the metal poles holding the vines couldn't withstand the winds. Out of 12 rows of vines, only two were left standing.
"There's 1,003 vines out there, and why I know that is because my wife and I, and we had a few friends help us, we intimately planted each plant," Bulissa said.
The vineyard produces grapes that are used for wine at Lovingston Winery. The owners said they expected to produce three tons of grapes which could be turned into up to 150 gallons of wine per ton.
But Bulissa said they planted the vineyard, not necessarily for profit, but for ambience for those who stay at his inn.
Now the couple is faced with a tough decision - lose up to $20,000 in crops or try to somehow salvage the grapes.
"They're starting to sunburn and starting to basically turn into raisins and shrivel up and die," Bulissa said.
Other business owners NBC29 talked to said they're estimating losses due to Friday's storm of anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Several grocery stores in the region lost their produce when their power went out, and that could really cost them.
"If you're a grocer and you lose your product, you can lose $100,000 worth of product in a matter of hours and some of them did do that," said Timothy Hulbert, the director of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
But there's a silver lining on those dark clouds - some businesses are busier than ever.
The Walmart in Ruckersville says that they had to close for four hours because of lost power. But since then they've had an increase of business, with people buying items like ice, coolers, and generators. Now that people in the region are starting to get their power back, they're seeing a lot of customers coming in for the fresh produce.
"Businesses have been very resilient and some businesses, of course, have done better because of the damage," Hulbert said.
In the meantime, others are still cleaning up from the storm. "You rely on Mother Nature to come through for you and sometimes she doesn't," Bulissa said.
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Tuesday, December 10 2013 8:13 PM EST2013-12-11 01:13:23 GMT
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