Kelly Tabor, a co-owner of Good For The Sole Shoes on Harden Street, calls himself a flooding “doomsdayer.”
Tabor said he learned his lesson in summer 2006, after a storm flooded his Five Points store and ruined about $5,000 worth of merchandise. Now, the store’s wares sit on platforms off the ground. And his store has tile flooring, not carpet, which he said needed cleaning every time the store took on water.
Several Five Points businesses spent Friday afternoon preparing for a storm and the water it could dump into their stores.
Columbia’s popular but low-lying entertainment district has been prone to flooding in recent years, and some business owners and managers – especially those on Harden Street – are worried with a Category 4 hurricane, with all its attendant rain, barreling north along the coast.
Sandbags – some provided by the city – were a common sight, though some managers took additional measures to protect their businesses.
Tabor said his store floods with just 3 inches of rain. With some forecasts calling for as many as 12 inches, he wanted to be extra prepared.
Tabor lined the outside of the store’s windows with waterproof duct tape and lined the inside with waterproof caulk. He also planned to put out about 20 sandbags to keep water from reaching his store. He said he was using the same measures for the vacant store next door.
“I would rather be prepared than to suffer,” Tabor said.
The managers of the Cotton Gin bar on Harden Street also used additional measures aside from sandbags. Keith Johnson, a co-owner of Cotton Gin and general manager of Jake’s Bar and Grill on Devine Street, said it is “simply a matter of time” before Harden Street floods.
The Cotton Gin’s managers installed a wooden “dam” near the front door to keep water out. Johnson said the dam, which was built last week, is 18 inches tall and weighs 75 pounds. In addition to the dam and sandbags out front, Johnson said the Cotton Gin also will be protected from internal flooding with newly installed sump pumps.
Johnson said the Cotton Gin has had internal flooding when the sewer system has flooded, pushing up water into the bar through floor drains. Johnson said the pumps would keep that from happening.
Danielle Pagan, the owner of Rock Paper Scissors Salon, said she hopes the storm will miss South Carolina.
“We’ve been here when it was flooded before, and it was pretty gnarly,” said Pagan, who had several sandbags to put in front of her shop’s front door. “We’re definitely worried about it this time.”
Pagan said her business has appointments scheduled for Saturday and she plans on being open.
“It’ll just depend on what it looks like when we get here tomorrow,” she said.
Paige Stein, who manages Vestique at the corner of Harden Street and Santee Avenue, said she, too, is concerned. Vestique has flooded three or four times, once damaging some clothes in the store, she said.
Stein had a few sandbags ready to go.
“Everyone keeps saying, ‘You’re only going to put out sandbags?’” Stein said. “But it’s worked in the past.”
Tabor said he enjoys having his shoe store in Five Points, even with the flooding risk.
“Tonight, I won’t sleep, but it’s part of doing business in Five Points,” he said. “But I love Five Points. I would never leave.”