Staunton flood two years later: how businesses are coping

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 11:36 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Monday marks two years since the historic flood devastated parts of Staunton.

Many businesses in the Queen City were already taking a financial hit due to COVID, then the flood came and cleared out many of them overnight.

“We came in Sunday morning to absolute devastation,” John Matheny, owner of The Store in Staunton said.

Matheny was one of more than 60 businesses impacted by the flood.

“It was kind of surreal because all the water was gone, and we opened it up; it was just devastation,” he said.

During an already unsettling time at the height of the pandemic, Matheny said the flood disaster gave the community purpose again.

“When we opened the doors we had customers and people from the community start to come in. They were coming in with shovels; they were coming in with Wet-vacs; they were coming in with pressure washers, and they’re like we’re gonna clean you up,” Matheny said.

He said it brought the community together. People were able to come in with their masks and gloves and help clean up the damage downtown.

If the pandemic brought anything good, Matheny said it was a blessing in disguise.

“The pandemic shut down the restaurant,” Matheny said. “Had it not been for that, we had a bluegrass band scheduled to do a musical event the night of the flood. we would’ve had over 100 people in this building, and because of the water … all the commercial doors open out so we wouldn’t have been able to get out, so we would’ve had 100 people trapped in this building.”

Other businesses in the area are still getting back on their feet two years after the flood.

Wavely Groves, owner of EccoHollow in Staunton said they are still working every day to get back to 100% and have a room devoted to salvaging equipment, but what he has is still here to serve the music community to the best of their ability.

Although Mother Nature can be unpredictable, many of the businesses affected by this disaster are now more prepared.

“We still have our sand bags that the city gave us after the flood other than that there’s really nothing you can do it was just a freak storm,” Matheny said.

Matheny has a mark on his wall of how high the flood water came into his store. He said his wife is an accountant and did the math to estimate how much water was in the building -- 179,000 gallons.

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