PORT TOWNSEND — Business in Port Townsend’s Undertown is back in full swing after stores were forced to close due to flooding, which inundated some businesses with up to 8 inches of standing water.
“It wasn’t fun,” said David Wing-Kovarik of Frameworks, one of the businesses that suffered significant damage in the flood.
“But we’re not, excuse the pun, dead in the water.”
Inches of water
Store owners in Undertown, all located in basement-level suites at 211 Taylor St., arrived Oct. 11 to find between 4 and 8 inches of water in their stores after earlier rainfall.
“When I came in, I had boxes floating and empty water bottles from the water cooler were floating around,” said Mark Hering of Quimper Sound, a record store that has operated in Undertown for longer than 40 years.
Wing-Kovarik said Frameworks has never experienced flooding before, but because the store is in a basement of a building originally constructed in the 1800s this likely wasn’t the first flood of the basement levels.
The standing water caused significant damage to inventory on the lower shelves, he said.
“We lost 90 percent of our ready-made frames,” Wing-Kovarik said. “As well as custom work, mats, computers, it was a significant impact.”
Quimper Sound, which is next door to Frameworks, lost piles of records in the flood, many of which can’t be salvaged, according to Hering.
“I didn’t really take a count but it was a substantial amount of loss,” Hering said.
Neither Hering nor Wing-Kovarik had a clear estimate of their losses as of Thursday, they said.
Currently piles of damp records are being stored in a locked storage area, including a number of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers albums which, in the wake of the singer’s death, could bring in up to $30 each, Hering said.
Other records could run from $15 to $20, but aside from some likely water damage, Hering said many record collectors buy older albums for the covers, which are now mostly not salvageable.
“Once they are wet they can start molding and you don’t want to put moldy records next to a dry collection,” Hering said.
Hering said he also had to throw away an entire CD case which was completely damaged by the standing water.
Hering said he, and many of the other store owners, are working on claims with the city.
“They said the storm drain [in a neighboring parking lot] was just overwhelmed,” Hering said.
City officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
“There’s regularly standing water in that area anyway so it’s definitely an issue,” Wing-Kovarik said.
The water flooded in to Undertown from a city parking lot at the end of Tyler Street. The water also flowed into parts of the Cellar Door bar at 940 Water St., Suite 1, which sits below the parking lot.
All the Undertown stores — Frameworks, Quimper Sound, The Red Dragonfly and the Candle Store — were shut down for nine days after the flooding. Stores were reopened last weekend.
While it’s mostly business as usual, store owners are still recovering from the flood.
“I keep apologizing since I’ve got boxes everywhere,” Hering said. “I’m still just sorting through things.”
Wing-Kovarik said Frameworks is almost fully recovered. The business had to delay some of its packaging to ensure the air was free of mold before packing framed fine art pieces.
Wing-Kovarik said Thursday that the custom framing service is operating now; the business has sent out for a shipment of ready-made frames to make up for inventory that was lost.
Much of their specialty work and frames art was saved because it was hung above the flood water, owners said.
“We’re all back up and pushing forward,” Wing-Kovarik said.
The Undertown stores also are preparing for more shut downs during a project scheduled to start in January to replace water lines under Water Street as well as add accessible sidewalk ramps and repave the road.