NORTH ANDOVER — Residents and businesses in the Merrimack Valley worked to recover Thursday from a punishing rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in the area.
On High Street in North Andover, the Davis & Furber Mills development, home to more than 90 businesses, was badly damaged by Tuesday’s flooding, which prompted emergency declarations in North Andover and Lawrence.
A therapist at Serenity Massage, Ashley Crowley said she was giving a customer a massage Tuesday morning when water began to pour from a pipe into the hallway. Soon water was everywhere: in the hallway, the office, and the massage rooms, she said.
Crowley, 33, began moving electronics and other items into the one room that hadn’t been damaged before leaving the building with everyone else, she said.
But most items, from massage tables to office supplies, were damaged. A wall will have to be replaced, and carpeting will be removed, she said. Damages will likely surpass $75,000.
Gregg Lindsay, owner of Good Day Cafe, another business in the mixed-use development, said he and his wife opened the business in January 2020 and were forced to close two months later due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday morning, Lindsay said the basement became almost entirely submerged under close to 10 feet of water.
Water began to fill the restaurant too, he said, reaching a height of nearly 8 inches. The water had receded by Wednesday, but the electricity remained off Thursday for safety reasons.
Lindsay said the flooding damaged his supplies and he hopes he will be eligible for financial assistance. While taking out loans to recover isn’t an option, he and his wife vowed to reopen and salvage the business.
“We’re going to survive, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Congressman Seth Moulton, a Democrat who represents the area, visited North Andover to assess the damage and later briefed reporters at Davis & Furber Mills.
Moulton said it’s too early to tell when financial relief might be available for those affected by the floods. Disasters are happening everywhere, he said, and for “all the climate deniers in Congress, it’s hitting their districts, too.”
Bruce Tarr, the Republican minority leader of the state senate, praised the resiliency of the workers and volunteers cleaning up the damaged businesses.
“They said, ‘We’re going to rebuild,’” Tarr said. “Now it’s our responsibility to make that come full circle.”
At Jaime’s Restaurant, owner Jaime Faria, 54, said the water in the basement came up to his waist Tuesday morning. He estimated the business sustained more than $120,000 in damages, with up to $25,000 in lost alcohol alone. When the power’s restored, he’ll be able to determine if the appliances still work.
As the water rushed in, firefighters broke two holes in the windows of RMS Toys next to his restaurant so water could flow out of the building, he said. At one point, he saw a refrigerator floating in the water.
On Thursday, workers were carrying damaged furniture and chairs out of the building and into dumpsters filled with ruined items.
Earlier in the week, Lawrence Mayor Brian A. DePeña said floodwaters had caused “severe damage to properties” and North Andover’s town manager, Melissa Rodrigues, encouraged residents and business owners affected by the “unprecedented rain event” to submit a form documenting their issues.
“The town is actively working with the state and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in an effort to have the town authorized to receive disaster assistance programs,” she said. “Part of seeking that designation includes understanding the value of the property damage to the community. We are asking residents and businesses to keep an accounting of their losses and expenses and to submit those via this form as soon as possible.”
Forecasters had said minor flooding could occur again Thursday in North Andover, Andover, and Lawrence, which received 6.7 inches of rain during Tuesday’s storm.
But the flood watch for Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island was canceled Thursday evening, as the heaviest rain was expected to remain just offshore to the south of Massachusetts, forecasters said.
In Andover, officials warned residents to stay away from the Merrimack River, citing troubles caused by stormwater runoff.
“There has been a release of untreated or partially treated wastewater at the Lowell Wastewater Treatment Facility,” the Andover Health Division said Wednesday. “The Commonwealth recommends that the public avoid contact with the Merrimack River for at least 48 hours after a sewerage discharge or overflow.”