Etowah business plagued by flooding issues - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Etowah business plagued by flooding issues

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ETOWAH, TN (WRCB) -

For nearly a year, Sally Bauer has poured her retirement savings into her retail shop in Etowah.

"All of my livelihood's here. Everything I own is in this store," says Bauer.

Just a few months after moving in, flooding rains forced her to close Shabby Chic Sisters for a week. Then it happened again six months later.

"Christmas time it flooded again," adds Bauer. "This time it was mud and water. It was closed six weeks, and my sister and I had to clean every bit of it ourselves." The window and mother of an autistic son couldn't afford to hire a professional.

Bauer says before signing her lease, her landlord didn't tell her about past flooding problems. She has another year to go on the contract and she says her landlord is very ill, so she's stuck where she is.

"I've lost merchandise along the way, which is very expensive," says Bauer.

Because the business has a history of flooding, Bauer hasn't been able to get flood insurance. The property is too high a risk. However, she hopes the city can solve the problem.

"You cannot open up a business, closed it for six weeks, reopen it, close it for two or three weeks, reopen it. You can't do it," exclaims Bauer.

The problem is a nearby canal. City manager Matthew Gravley blames silt build-up for causing the occasional overflows.

"We have to do what's called an ARAP permit to dredge the canal from the bridges," explains Gravley. "We can do that and we're working on it."

However, this is only a temporary solution. Five canals drain the city, and the two largest converge under Bauer's building at the intersection of Tennessee Avenue and 8th Street.

Gravley sympathizes with Bauer and says the fix calls for a major redesign.

"The longer term fix, a very large fix, would be rerouting the drains to a higher point in the canal," says Gravley.

Bauer's landlord says this was done in 2000 but hasn't helped.

In the meantime, Bauer is trying to keep her head above water and keep her business afloat. She's looking forward to a dry, sunny weekend.

"Thank you, Jesus," shouts Bauer.

She says she'll find a new space when her lease ends.

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