Manitou business owners wade through muck to assess losses

By Wayne Heilman Published: August 12, 2013 | 1:20 pm 0

More than 20 businesses suffered losses from the flood that swept through Manitou Springs on Friday and owners say some may not reopen for up to two weeks as they clean up damage.

Many of the shops in the 700 block of Manitou Avenue and along Canon and Park avenues suffered damage from the flood, either from water and mud that flowed into their buildings or that filled basements that many businesses along Fountain Creek used to store inventory, business records and other items.

Adam's Mountain Caf?is expected to be closed for at least two weeks, the Commonwheel Artists Co-op lost all its computers, an automated sales system and other equipment, and The Dulcimer Shop is expected to be shut down for a week.

The flood came just as many Manitou businesses had recovered from the losses suffered during last summer's Waldo Canyon fire, which virtually shut down the tourism industry in the Colorado Springs area during late June and early July of 2012 and triggered a 4.1 percent drop in retail sales last year, the biggest decline since at least 2000.

All but a handful of businesses in downtown Manitou Springs remained open Saturday, although many owners spent the day trying to clean up basements and other areas and said they weren't selling much merchandise as customers, neighbors and other volunteers pitched in to help. Dozens of volunteers from Manitou Springs High School, Summit Ministries and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were helping at such places as the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade, Adam's Mountain Caf?and Twin Bears Embroidery.

Kevin and Angie Korda, who moved their eBay business called Korda's Korner into the basement of a Manitou Springs storefront they leased for another business called Stick 'Em Up Signs & Decals they started just six weeks ago, suffered a big loss.

"We put every penny we had into our eBay business. We had 1,500 items in the basement, and we couldn't afford insurance coverage on it. We know we lost at least $50,000 because that is how much we had posted for sale in our store," Angie Korda said.

"I don't know what we will do. This was our income to support our family. I just don't know if we can recover. We really need some help with laundry to clean all of the clothing we had for sale on our site. We would be willing to trade signs for laundry services if someone is willing to do that."

Most businesses along the north side of Manitou and Canon avenues suffered losses as a result of flooded basements that were adjacent to Fountain Creek.

Many business owners in the area reported water, mud and debris reached 3 or 4 feet deep and some as much as 6 feet deep at the height of the flooding.

Many of the businesses still had 6 to 9 inches of mud in their basements Saturday morning, and some could not assess the mess because of dangerous conditions such as electricity that hadn't been turned off.

Sarah McCrary, an employee at The Dulcimer Shop, said about a third of the shop's wood that it uses for instruments was damaged in the flooding and many of the specialized saws used to create instruments had been covered by water and mud and would need to be cleaned. Both the wood inventory and saws were stored in the shop's basement. She said the shop likely would not reopen for at least a week because it must control the humidity level so that its dulcimers aren't damaged by excessive humidity.

Farley McDonough, owner of Adam's Mountain Caf? said the popular restaurant had been covered by 2 or 3 feet of water and mud that flowed down Williams Canyon to Canon Avenue and into the Manitou Spa building that houses the eatery and several other businesses. She said the restaurant, which employs up to 50 people during the tourism season, will be "at the mercy of the (El Paso County) Health Department and the (Pikes Peak) Regional Building Department" as to how quickly it can reopen after the mud and other debris is cleaned up.

"This will hurt our bottom line. We are at the peak of our season," McDonough said. "This is the second year in a row when we will lose two weeks at the height of the tourist season. It will probably put us into a loss for the entire year."

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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