|A day after a water main burst under Jerome Ave., businesses were still cleaning up. (J. Bodden)|
By Justin Bodden
A little more than twenty-four hours after a water main break left Jerome Avenue in Mt. Hope submerged under tens of thousands of gallons of water, some businesses were still cleaning up, working diligently to get every last drop of water out. Others were busy on the phones talking to their insurance companies, looking to receive compensation for damages.
Today, almost a week later, local businesses in the Mt. Hope are still struggling to clean-up and survive after a 108-year-old water main burst early last Wednesday morning near the corner of East 177th Street.
The cause of the main rupture is still under investigation, but Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Michael Saucier said in an e-mail that age alone did not cause the pipe to burst.
Local merchants who lived through it said the flooding created total chaos.
“Outside was a river when we came to open up, everything has been damaged,” said Fatoumata Barry, who’s uncertain about the future of the family-owned business she works for, MTD African Halal Supermarket, after the store was flooded with 14-inches of water. Barry estimates that the business sustained more than $400,000 in damages.
The muggy basement of the store that relatives say is one of the biggest African markets in the Bronx was covered with puddles of water and black garbage bags full of destroyed products ranging from sugar to lamb.
According to the family these upcoming months are the most important and lucrative because of the business created during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which began Monday.
“It’s going to be bad, because we will be losing business and most customers will be going elsewhere to shop,” said Barry.
Asked when the store might resume business, Barry replied, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nobody is helping us do anything.”
Owners are remaining hopeful that insurance and the city can reimburse for the damages.
“Right now we’re talking to insurance,” said Luis Najera the manger of Aztec Printing, which is less than a block away from where the water main broke.
Najera estimates his damages at around $10,000, which includes the floors, a printer, two computer desks and merchandise.
According to one employee at Aztec Printing, the city stopped by and had the business fill out paper work.
“Hopefully we can get compensation or else there will be no business,” said Najera.
Since the flooding, the Department of Small Business Services has had an emergency response unit in the area. A spokesman said that most of the businesses affected have been contacted and the agency has scheduled a business recovery meeting for those affected by the rupture. The meeting will take place tomorrow, August 3, at 11 a.m. at the Davidson Community Center at 2038 Davidson Avenue.