Burst pipe floods Richland shopping center

Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldDecember 11, 2013 

Burst Water Pipe Uptown

Matthew Meyer begins removing wood laminate flooring pieces Wednesday morning from his wife's massage business, Natural Serenity Massage, at 227 Symons Street at the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland. The business was flooded Tuesday when frozen water pipe burst in a vacant space above the business according to owner Sunnee Meyer. She hopes to have repairs made in about a week.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Three Richland businesses were still mopping up, airing out and assessing the damage Wednesday after a water pipe failed Sunday night in a building in the Uptown Shopping center.

The building, owned by James Go of Richland, is on the corner of George Washington Way and Symons Street. He couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but the owners of the affected businesses say he has been working with them.

Go told them that a pipe in the vacant, unheated second story was the source of the water.

Natural Serenity, a massage therapy business owned by Sunnee Swanby-Meyer, received the worst of the damage. The entire facility had to be gutted, from equipment to the floorboards.

Swanby-Meyer's business will be on hold until damages can be repaired. Caleb Cooper and Cindy McKay, who sublet rooms in Natural Serenity, plan to find temporary offices to rent.

Swanby-Meyer only carried liability insurance, so her finances will take a big hit, she said. Her family -- husband, mom, sisters and in-laws -- descended on the shop Wednesday and began the cleanup.

After inspecting for water damage, Swanby-Meyer found she would lose all the hardwood flooring and moldings in the 1,000-square foot-shop.

"That's a hard thing to hear when you're self-employed, especially this time of year," Swanby-Meyer said.

She didn't know about the flood until she arrived for work Tuesday morning, she said. She didn't notice the carpet squishing underfoot until she'd walked the length of her shop.

"I usually wear flip-flops and when I got back here," she said, pointing at the back room, "I felt water on my feet."

The water had run from a storage room next door under the wall and into the massage rooms.

"It completely soaked the floor. I lost carpeting, equipment used to heat the massage tables and some electronics, stereo speakers and a brand new laser printer that was sitting on the floor in a puddle," Swanby-Meyer said.

The water also drenched a storage room rented by the owners of Adventures Underground, owned by Logan Kaufman and Amanda Divine.

Kaufman first heard about the broken water pipe early Monday morning and quickly put out a call for aid on the store's Facebook page.

About eight people showed up, all loyal customers, and -- with help from the store's employees and one from a nearby business -- had the storage room cleaned out within a few hours.

Wednesday afternoon, the fans and heaters were still running in the room and moisture clouded the windows.

"I imagine there will be quite a bit of damage," Kaufman said. "Those light fixtures will probably need to be replaced, and all the ceiling tiles too."

Kaufman and his partner had planned to put a door between the bookstore and the space they were renting.

"We were going to put records over in here and turn that space," he said, gesturing to the right of the door, "as a coffee shop. I think those plans will be on hold for quite a while."

They'd only been renting the storage room for a few months and hadn't yet put it on their insurance policy, Kaufman said. They'd stored some 2,000 comic books, 20 to 30 boxes of records and some books in there. Most were a total loss and were discarded.

But Gus Sako, owner of nearby Octopus Garden, took some of the bags of water-damaged comic books, sorted out the ones that could be salvaged and dried them.

"Those we'll donate to charity," Kaufman said.

Mister Mattress, owned by Angela Campos, suffered the least damage. A double row of ceiling tiles along the back of her store became soaked and collapsed on three queen-size mattresses. They in turn acted as sponges and soaked up much of the water.

Campos plans to discard the soaked mattresses and reopen for business today.

"The ceiling tiles have already been replaced," Campos said.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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