(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) One day after a GoFundMe campaign launched to support Westover stores hit by Monday’s flooding, the fundraiser has passed its initial aim of $25,000 and has moved towards a new $100,000 goal.
Flash floods on Monday left stores on the north side of the 5800 block of Washington Blvd ankle-deep in water, with basements filled to the ceiling with water. Kristy Peterkin, a manager at Ayers Variety & Hardware, estimated the storm caused at least $100,000 in damages to the merchandise. Days after the storm, power still hasn’t been restored and most of the stores on the block remain closed.
As of 3:45 p.m., the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $34,000 to help Ayers and Westover Market and Beer Garden, two stores that were particularly hard hit by the flooding.
According to the GoFundMe page:
Part of the Westover Shopping Center — Ayers Hardware, the Westover Beer Garden and other shops — was deluged. The businesses’s main levels and storage basements were inundated with water. These businesses are the heart and soul of the Westover community. I am hoping neighborhood residents and folks across Arlington County will contribute to this campaign to help the businesses cover cleanup costs, property repair costs, inventory damage costs and associated loss-of-business costs.
In the comments, donors shared their stories of shopping at Ayers or dining at Westover Market.
“The Beer Garden and Westover folks always took care of us, so let’s take care of them in their time of need,” one donor said.
— Paulo Mendes (@Paulojmendes1) July 8, 2019
The shops in Westover Village are still a long way from recovered. Power to the block was routed through the basements of Ayers and Westover Market, which means the flooding has left the entire row of businesses without power.
Ayers is half-lit by power running through a generator in the back. Lights are on at Westover Market but an employee at the store said they were still closed. The Italian Store, the spot furthest east and at the highest elevation on the block, is running on generator power.
Peterkin said nearby cafes and restaurants have been chipping in to make meals for the hardest-hit businesses. It’s been just one part of what Peterkin said was an amazing community response to their crisis.
Peterkin said Ayers was not in any way involved with creating or running the GoFundMe, and said the store would leave the distribution of the funds raised to the person who organized the campaign, noting that it was started after one of the store’s longtime customers who came in and asked permission to launch the fundraiser.
A comment on the GoFundMe said that the store would not be taking financial contributions, but Peterkin made it clear that was not the case. Others who didn’t want to support the store through GoFundMe have come by and dropped off a contribution in person.
“We’ll take all the help we can get,” Peterkin said.
People have volunteered to come and help clean, but growing risk of mold and mildew has meant anyone journeying down into the waterlogged basement needs a breathing mask in addition to a flashlight.
“An injury lawsuit would really be the last straw,” Peterkin said.
Even as they work to get the store back into working order, Peterkin said palettes of new merchandise ordered before the flood are still arriving, but with nowhere to put them with the basement out of commission.
Ayers faces at least $100,000 in losses just from damaged merchandise in the flooded basement, Peterkin said, adding that there will be additional expenses to repair the basement. The store is not protected by flood insurance.
“We didn’t think we’d need it in Arlington,” Peterkin said.