CHAPEL HILL – The waters have receded from the Shops at Eastgate, but store owners are left struggling with the aftermath of Sunday’s flood.
Sue Kopkind, a fiber artist and coordinator at Womancraft Gifts, says the artist’s cooperative is not likely to reopen until the end of the week.
“We need new carpeting,” Kopkind says. “And a lot of the display units are in the water.”
She says she got panicked calls from store volunteers on Sunday as water streamed into the store.
Situated on top of Booker Creek, the shopping center is notorious for flooding. Many stores, including Womancraft, keep sandbags on hand, but Kopkind says they weren’t enough to keep the creek out for long.
“Even the roaches…it was too fast for the roaches,” Kopkind says. “They were dead in the water.”
On Monday morning landscaping crews shoveled wet mulch from the parking lot as damage assessment teams set up shop. Most stores were closed, but some remained open, seemingly untouched by the flood.
Creek water seeped into Great Outdoor Provision Company and rose up from beneath the wooden floorboards. Still, General Manager Chad Pickens says that wasn’t enough to keep the business closed.
“Our customer base is full of outdoors people, so our thought is they’re kind of used to roughing it—even though this is far from roughing it—that they would be a little bit more accustomed to the types of smells from the creek that we have here in the shop this morning,” Pickens says.
Pickens credits his employees for making sure the store was well prepared.
“We knew that historically this was a floodplain area and there have been some problems in the shopping center,” Pickens says. “So, yesterday’s crew raised everything off the floors and got things as prepared as we could. There were sandbags out in front of the front doors and back doors that helped minimize the damage.”
It’s too early to tell how much damage was caused by Sunday’s flood, and with more rain in the forecast, some worry it’s not over yet. But Pickens remains optimistic.
“Certainly far from catastrophic here, and we’re open for business,” Pickens says. “We hope that customers will continue to come visit.”
Meanwhile, shop owners and employees will dry out as best they can and wait for the creek that flows under- and sometimes over- Eastgate to return to normal levels.
For pictures from the storm, click here.
For pictures from the aftermath and clean up efforts, click here.