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Mold lingers two months after flood

June 29, 2011
By OLIVIA PEPE - For the Enterprise , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Two months after the flood, some businesses are still dealing with lingering damage, much of it having to do with mold.

Brothers Mike and Gar Munn's shop, Munn's Office Equipment, has its share of mold.

"The mold makes it a health risk to be in here," Gar said. He said landlord Bill Rich is planning to raise the floor about a foot to put stone and a heater underneath it late this summer. If that happens, Gar said they would work out of a storage bin, his truck and his home.

Article Photos

Mold feeds off of the moisture still trapped in Munn’s Office Equipment Monday.
(Photo — Olivia Pepe)

"We had five pumps, pumping out the water," Gar said. But they kept working, repairing business machines.

Gar said about 15 copy machines had water damage.

"I figured it costs between $300 and $400 per machine," Gar said. "Multiply that by 15 and that's how much we lost." He said the moisture from the water was so bad that even machines that didn't get hit had water in them.

But flooding is nothing new to the Munns.

"We've experienced flooding in here before, but it was only a few inches in '92, '93 and '95," Mike said.

Judi Latt, from Judi's Computer Support, said her business is relocating as an indirect result of the flood.

"Personally, the business did not sustain damage from the water, but my main thing was the cleanup after, or lack thereof," Latt said.

According to Latt, water finally ran out of the basement on May 10, and at that point landlord Ken Weissberg, who lives in France, knew about the flood, which began April 27.

"They didn't seize the moment to try to clean it up right away. My husband and I got sick from working in here as the mold was building up," she said.

Latt's business also lacked power for a week so water and sewage could be pumped from the basement. If nothing else, a computer service shop needs electricity.

"Trying to keep the business up from our home was excruciating," Latt said.

Roger Steinbrueck of Scott's Florist said he's going to have to hire a contractor to replace some of the drywall in the business, which was inundated with water from the adjacent Saranac River during the flooding.

"It's mold from the bottom up about 2 feet," he said. "We're going to have to gut it."

Steinbrueck said he'd be grateful if there was disaster aid available to help pay for the work, but he's not holding his breath.

"I don't have time to think about it or dwell on it, I've just got to deal with my business as it is now," he said.

Denny Ford, owner of Upscale Resale, said his antique shop had to shut down on May 12 for about five weeks.

"We were evacuated from the building at that time because of fumes from oil that had been in the water," Ford said. He said the water stood about 5 feet in the basement and ruined the majority of his inventory there.

"I considered moving; I even opened up a second shop," Ford said. But he has decided to stay where he is for now and keep both shops open for the summer tourist season.

Ford said he guessed that the damaged merchandise cost about $10,000.

"The water went above the wall meant to protect the basement if something like this happened," Ford said.

Ford said repairing the damaged basement showcase would be "a long time coming." He said that he is not going to fix the basement because he is afraid of another flood. He might be offered federal money for the damages but has heard nothing yet.

The building's owner, Les Hershhorn of Saranac Lake, declined comment.

EcoLiving owner Amy Johnstone used to have "a beautiful apartment" in her basement before the flood struck.

"The flood came so fast, it was such a surprise. It rose to about 3 feet and kept on rising every couple of hours," Johnstone said.

Johnstone had spent $20,000 renovating the basement back in 2005 and spent a total of $6,000 cleaning up water and sewage damage afterward.

Daniel Brownwell, co-owner of Gauthier's Saranac Lake Inn, says, "Thank God the flood's over." The Brownwells had renovated the inn last year. Then as spring turned into summer this year, they had to do it again. Now they're done.

"We did it in a hurry; it only took a month," said co-owner Doug Brownwell, Dan's brother.

"It cost us $25,000 all out of pocket," Dan said. Eleven out of the 31 rooms had water damage.

"We still had rooms to rent because it happened in the slower season," Dan said. "If it would have happened now, it would have cost multiple times that." He hopes for federal relief.

Doug said that when they "re-re-renovated" the rooms, they made them look almost identical to the previous ones. The brothers had no plan B if the damage was permanent.

"We knew it was all going to be fixed; it was just a matter of time," Dan said. He is hoping that this will be a "once-in-a-lifetime event."

Some businesses had less physical damage and more income damage. Terence Fogarty, owner of Fogarty's Lake Flower Marina, said that because of the weather, his business was set back six weeks. That involves preparing boats for summer, repairing boats and selling boats.

"We're overwhelmed with business. We have the same amount of work to do, but less time to do it in," Fogarty said.


Senior Staff Writer Chris Knight contributed to this report.



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