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Businesses say little to no damage caused by Derry flood

Union Leader Correspondent

September 19. 2018 8:57PM
Business owner Alan Kachanian said the water was up to his knees in this area of Tinkham Avenue, where a sign and plant debris partially obstructed culvert pipes. (RYAN LESSARD/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

DERRY — As business owners returned to the buildings from which they fled Tuesday morning amidst rising flood waters, they discovered a silver lining: no serious water damage.

Only AMK Auto Brokers, Karl Gschwind Machine Works and NuDay Syria had water enter their buildings.

Other businesses, including Joe & Kim’s Auto, Breathe Crossfit and Palaestra Gymnastics Academy reported no water entered their industrial buildings.

Fifteen people from four businesses were evacuated by the Derry Fire Department, some by boat, after up to two feet of water swept through the area after heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Florence.

“Nothing,” Palaestra Gymnastics’ Kathleen Bell said. “Just had to sweep the front steps.”

Joe Durling, the owner of Joe & Kim’s Auto, said there were at least three cars out on the lot for repair that likely suffered some damage. He hasn’t inspected them yet or called his insurance company. They belong to a local used car dealership.

Alan Kachanian, the owner of AMK Auto Brokers, said his cars were saved from water damage because they were inside his building. Kachanian said he would have lost $200,000 to $300,000 worth of cars otherwise.

“I would’ve lost a lot of expensive cars if they weren’t inside the building,” Kachanian said.

Kachanian, who also owns the property located at 8 Tinkham Ave. that houses the gymnastics academy, crossfit gym and NuDay, said some of the donated clothes and supplies stored at the NuDay unit suffered some water damage.

“NuDay lost some stuff in there,” he said.

Perhaps the hardest hit company was Karl Gschwind Machine Works. Operations manager Mike Benoit said the machine shop, located at 6 Tinkham Ave., was not evacuated but had a lot of water enter the building when the culvert behind the shop overflowed.

He said they had three or four guys keeping the water at bay with squeegees for the whole day until about 6 p.m.

“I was lucky enough to keep it out of the office area,” Benoit said, adding the business’ only clean-up involved work in the machine shop area.

Benoit said it’s the most water he’d seen in the area in 30 years.

Because he had to shut down the business for the day, he estimates he lost about $5,200 worth of business. He said 10 machines running eight hours a day make about $65 an hour for the company.

On Wednesday, Benoit used a compact tractor to build a makeshift retaining wall behind the building with the soil.

Kachanian said the asphalt along the edges of the road suffered some damage and an already crumbling concrete sidewalk leading to his business is now in need of more immediate repair.

Mike Fowler, the director of Derry’s Department of Public Works, said crews were back at the site Wednesday to check the integrity of one of the catch basins, but didn’t find any major issues.

Fowler said the department will be doing “some after-action work” in the area of Tinkham Avenue to make sure there aren’t any structural deficiencies contributing to flood situations.

“After a storm, we find some of the weaknesses that may be in our system,” Fowler said.

So far, he said it seems the problem was primarily caused by very intense rain in a short period of time.

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