The second storm in eleven months has closed downtown’s Chocolate Tree again for an extended period of time. Irma came through last Monday and left the iconic local business damaged by flood waters, a situation all too familiar with the staff because Hurricane Matthew did the same thing last October.
The building sustained some damage with several feet of flood waters surrounding it and a foot of water inside at the height of Irma’s surge on Monday.
“We had to end up replacing all of the carpet after Matthew hit,” said co-owner Joy King. “We were closed for nearly three weeks last time and we’re confident it will be less this time around. We lost one of our air conditioners and some appliances with Irma, but luckily there was only minimal damage.”
The store has a lot of work to do before it can reopen. “So much cleaning,” Joy said. “Our carpeting has been cleaned and disinfected, our air conditioner has been replaced and as everything dries, there’s still a lot of cleaning to go. Then the whole place needs to be put back together again.”
With Irma bringing more water than Matthew did, one would wonder why the business fared better this time around?
“Sandbags,” said King. “We learned our lesson from Matthew. Ahead of Irma, our staff prepared by taking everything off of the floor and placing it into a higher spot in the store so it wouldn’t be damaged. If we didn’t sandbag, it would’ve been a major catastrophe.”
Since Monday the phone lines have been ringing off the hook. Lots of locals have called and offered their assistance in helping. Everything from monetary donations to assistance with cleaning has been offered.
“We really appreciate our community caring so much about us. It’s been a difficult time,” Joy said. “I feel bad about the other businesses around us who fared worse than we did in the storm.”
” Many people have asked how they can help and the best way would be to support us, and other local businesses, as soon as we all reopen.”
King said they should be open again next week. Local candy lovers can expect to be back in the store by Friday, September 22nd.
We’re looking forward to it.