Community rises in wake of downtown Lynn flooding

Eric Ciccone looks at all the merchandise that was runied just in Beden Hardware store alone when Munroe Street was hit with a flash flood on Saturday. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Out of destruction came something good as business owners and residents on Munroe Street cleaned up the aftermath of flash flooding on Saturday that hit the city particularly hard.

“We’ve got some good neighbors,” said Eric Ciccone, co-owner of Beden Hardware & Commercial supply, which has been at 95 Munroe St. for more than 50 years. “Plasti-graphics on Central Street offered us their warehouse which was very generous. Fernando, who used to own a business down here, came by to help.”

A combination of high tide and flash flooding left parked cars floating on the stretch of road that connects Washington and Market streets and more than 800 property owners without power on Saturday morning. Ground-floor businesses took in varying levels of water, ranging from just a few inches to several feet.

The hardware store is covering the cost of a dumpster to fill with floor tiles, damaged goods, and trash from the store and is sharing it with neighboring Complete Labor and Staffing in exchange for cleanup help from the laborers, Ciccone said.

Two days after the flood, Ciccone and his team were clearing water-logged inventory and moving it to an alley beside the shop with the help of volunteers. By Monday afternoon, he still wasn’t sure how much he had lost.

“Everything was submerged so I know there’s mold everywhere,” he said. “The furnace was underwater so I don’t know if that works yet. It’s just too much. We’re overwhelmed.”

Ciccone said his main priority was removing the floor and preventing long-term mold from growing.

A few doors down at Land of A Thousand Hills, cafe manager Eric Rondeau, a Pine Hill resident, was stunned when he arrived to work in the morning and saw the amount of water filling Munroe Street.

“When I pulled up at about 7 a.m., it was something I’d never seen in my life,” said Rondeau. “I pulled up and I was shocked. Residents were shoveling water out of their cars with buckets. Down the street, by The Item, it was way worse. There were a couple of cars that were parked but they were floating down the street. I was confused. Hazel from The Food Project ran up to me and asked about the cafe. I was so shocked about the cars, that’s when I realized the cafe probably was not ok.”

Small puddles of water scattered about the coffee shop were mopped up with the help of volunteers, said Gini Mazman, executive director of The Haven Project. People came in off the street and called to offer help. Several volunteers who arrived to repair damage to the East Coast International Church popped in to help clean up the cafe, she said.

Rondeau braved ankle-deep water in the basement to salvage a few pieces of art and other contents.

At Miguelagne Barber Shop, friends arrived and worked through Sunday vacuuming water and removing debris, said barber Daniel Velazquez. By Monday afternoon, Velazquez was already trimming hair.

The White Rose Coffeehouse was closed Monday, with a sign explaining the shop had more damage than owners originally realized. Owner Kato Mele said cleaning water from the floor was the easy part. The basement, however, was filled with water. Four trash cans were filled with supplies and food that had been ruined.

“We’re waiting for someone to come in and assess the basement,” Mele said. “We’re hoping to be open by Wednesday.”

Fatou Drammeh, owner of Fatou’s African Hair Braiding, said she cleaned up her business without help, but didn’t suffer as much damage as many of her neighbors.

“This happened before in 2012 and I lost a lot more so that was a wake up call for me,” she said. “I keep things in plastic bins. It was only my braiding books and some new stuff in boxes that I lost.”

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