Brandon Shops Re-Open, Towns Seek Normalcy

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(Host) Cleanup and repair efforts are going on all over the state, and many local businesses are trying to get back to some sense of normalcy.

As VPR’s Nina Keck found in Brandon, local business owners say as long as the roads stay open, they will, too.

(Keck) Part of what makes downtown Brandon so quaint is the way the Neshobe River winds through it, with a spectacular waterfall right in the heart of the business district.   

Last week, that same river picked up the local pizza parlor and pushed it into Route 7. Bernie Carr owns a florist and gift shop two doors up.

(Carr)  "So much volume came, that it just started hitting the back corner of the building. We went inside. We saw the water coming in.  We went to the top of the steps and it was at the back door – that quickly.  We stepped down into it and it just rose up our legs and it just flowed into the building. Horrible."

(Keck) The good part of this story is that Carr is retelling all that to a customer – one of many that have been in his shop over the last few days checking in and, thankfully, buying things.   

Carr says he lost less than a thousand dollars worth of merchandise and a carpet cleaner did wonders. Looking around, you’d never know the store was flooded. 

(Café sounds)

(Keck) Just down the street at Gourmet Provence, a popular pastry shop, Lana Findley brews a cappuccino for the first time in a week. She says the river came through several of their back rooms and they had to wait until the pizza parlor, which had come to rest near the café’s front door, was demolished and removed.   

Seeing customers coming and going again, she says, feels good.

(Findley) "It’s really good to get back to work. Much as I like sleeping in, it’s good to be back here. Everybody, I think, is happy, and everyone is pulling together ."

(Keck) Findley and Bernie Carr say what’s even better, they’ve heard that Shelia Gearwar, the owner of the House of Pizza, plans to reopen her restaurant across the street.

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Brandon.

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