ARLINGTON, Va. (FOX 5 DC) — When Monday’s storm ravaged much of Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia, it left a trail of destruction that will take weeks, if not months or years to recover. In Arlington, some of those hardest hit are getting a little moral and financial support.
It took just 26 minutes for the storm to blow through the Westover Shopping Center on Washington Boulevard Monday. Days later, they still have no power and six of the eight mom and pop shops remain shuttered — assessing the damage and counting their losses.
“It’s petrifying. It’s our livelihood. When you think about it, if we can’t recover, we have to figure out how to make a living and since we’ve all done this for so long, our skills are pretty limited,” laughed Kristy Peterkin, store manager at Ayers Variety & Hardware.
Surveillance footage captured a timelapse of the storm, showing just how quickly water rose behind Ayer’s Variety & Hardware, sending a dumpster and wooden pallets floating through the parking lot.
The store has been a fixture in the community since the 1940s, but on Monday morning, it flooded like it never had before. Peterkin says she went down to the basement to open the drain and literally had to swim out of it.
As she and her elderly parents cleaned up the mess, they remained open to serve their clients.
“We stayed open the first day for people who needed storm things. I wasn’t selling you candy day one, but if you had flooding, you needed a shop vac, masks, whatever, we sold those things that day. They’ll come back and pay us if they couldn’t that day. We know that this is that kind of place,” said Peterkin.
It’s that dedication to their community that prompted a group of residents to help these businesses with their losses. The customers started a GoFundMe page. It has already raised more than $30,000.
Between lost inventory, building repairs and overtime, Peterkin estimates the cost of the storm, just for her store alone, will end up reaching around $200,000.