Three Louisiana, Mo., businesses within yards of each other are miles apart when it comes to paying for recovery from flash flooding two weeks ago.
It has owners turning red as they fork over a lot of green to put things back in order.
The problem started early on July 20, when more than six inches of rain prompted part of Town Branch to top its banks.
The creek meanders for almost two miles through downtown Louisiana and serves as a storm water drainage ditch.
Several feet of water rushed down Fifth Street and then Georgia Street before running back into the creek. The inundation soaked businesses and left behind a sticky coating of mud.
More than 15 stores and 35 homes were affected. As of Aug. 5, Pike County had not joined Marion and Ralls counties on the state’s request for a federal disaster declaration because assessments still were being done.
A declaration would free up funding for assistance. Monroe and Shelby counties also are waiting to be added.
Insurance companies termed the Louisiana deluge surface water.
That meant most commercial and homeowner policies would not take care of the destruction.
In cases where offers were made, they often included buildings but not contents.
John Carroll is a co-owner of Pikers restaurant at the corner of Fifth and Georgia. He disputes the official version of what happened, and says water that swamped the eatery was forced out of Town Branch by blockage in the creek.
“There was nothing natural about it,” Carroll said.
Mike Kakouris agrees. The barber and furniture storeowner does business just across Georgia Street from the restaurant.
“It was a tidal wave,” said Kakouris, who remembers bewilderedly watching a Ford Mustang float by after the rain stopped. “It destroyed everything.”
Unlike some business people, Kakouris had flood insurance on top of his commercial coverage. The policies will pay for most of his $30,000 in damages, but Kakouris does expect out-of-pocket costs of at least $4,000.
Pikers also is looking at more than $30,000 in damage, and Carroll is working with his insurer on a settlement.
“We’re not looking to be made 110 percent whole,” said Carroll, who wasn’t sure how the negotiations would go. “We’re looking for a reasonable (amount) for what was lost.”
Joe Cook wasn’t as fortunate.
Despite paying more than $2,200 in annual commercial premiums for five years, his insurance won’t pay.
Cook, whose Eagle Business Products has been in the building at 414 Georgia since 1996, estimated his losses at up to $12,000.
“It’s rather frustrating to pay the kind of premiums I pay every year and then get told they wouldn’t pay anything,” Cook said.
But the spokeswoman, Alicia Robinson, said national flood coverage is available and that her company offers a backup sewer and drainage endorsement that can be added to commercial or homeowner policies to cover flash flooding.
Cook was frustrated by the company’s response. He also was upset with a damage assessor who visited Eagle Business Products after the flooding and suggested Cook consider a federal Small Business Administration loan.
Like other places that were affected, the last thing Cook says he needs is a loan payment.
“The guy was in the building less than two minutes and if he’d been in here three, I probably would have kicked him out,” Cook said.
A spokesman for the State Emergency Management Agency said the disaster decree was in the works.
City Administrator Bob Jenne said Louisiana hopes to get funding to repair the walls along Town Branch and help prevent backups that the city and business people contend led to the flooding.
Despite the mess, Kakouris didn’t miss a haircut appointment. Pikers plans to re-open next Wednesday after a major remodeling.
Like Kakouris, Cook is proud that Eagle Business Products kept its doors open, even handing orders to customers as they stood in the muck.
Still, Cook is disheartened by a system that seems to him as broken as some of the floor tiles that were cracked by the water that gushed into his building.
“I didn’t cause it,” he said. “Why should I have to (pay to) fix it?”
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