Corvallis Market owner Kulwinder Singh got the call at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
His store was flooding.
Singh recalled that he was shaking as he got the news.
“I bought it in 2003 and I’ve never seen (flooding) like that before,” he said.
Singh was one of many people who spent Thursday and Friday assessing the damage and trying to start the process of cleaning up.
Singh said his business, a convenience store at Peoria Road and Highway 34, had about 7 inches of water inside. Although he said the structure of the building, constructed of cinder blocks, is sound, he had to throw away all of the product that was on lower shelves where flood waters reached them. He estimated the lost product’s value at $20,000 to $30,000.
“It will take me years to cover," he said. "That’s a lot of loss.”
Singh was cleaning the business Friday and hoping to reopen Saturday.
“I don’t want to lose more customers,” he said.
Singh also said so many of his neighbors offered to help with the cleanup that he had to turn people away. He added that his insurance will not cover the damage.
Shawn King, co-owner of Freebird Body & Paint on Highway 34, said most area businesses won’t have flood insurance because they're in a flood plain, making such insurance prohibitively expensive. King said Freebird had about 4 inches of flooding.
He learned about it at around 4 a.m. Wednesday, when an employee who couldn’t get to work called him. King said he’s been through this before — the business was flooded twice in 1996.
“This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said.
However, he said he had higher water this time. And unlike the last floods, they didn’t have advance warnings.
“There was no opportunity to prepare. The other events were in the day so we could prepare,” he said.
King doesn’t know how much the flooding will cost him yet, but between lost revenue, plus flood damage to parts and shop equipment, he thinks it will be around $40,000. No vehicles or major equipment were damaged, he said, but the flood left an awful mess of mud.
King and his employees spent Friday cleaning the office and shops and trying to get back to work on customer vehicles. He said the company employs around 18 people and they typically schedule work five weeks in advance. Since no work was done for three days, he said they will have to work through the weekend and put in a lot of extra work next week to catch back up.
“Hopefully our customers will understand and we will work through it,” he said.
King expects Freebird to be back open its normal hours Monday.
Many of the businesses in the Eastgate Business Center near Freebird also flooded. Gene Temple, an employee of Milwaukee Electronics in the center, said the company’s location only had a little bit of water damage.
He said he found out about the flooding when he was turned around on Highway 34 Wednesday morning trying to drive into work from Albany. Later he watched Oregon Department of Transportation drone footage that showed the business complex. Based on that footage, he thought his office had been spared, but later learned from a coworker that floodwaters had entered the building.
“We thought we’d dodged the bullet, and we mostly did, but not entirely,” he said. “I feel fortunate.”
Zenón Gálvez, owner of Corvallis Auto Clinic, also at the corner of Highway 34 and Peoria Road, said he had at least four inches of water in his shop and estimates about $6,000 worth of damage to his equipment. One vehicle in his shop was up on his lift and escaped damage, but one customer car was swamped. He said he was working with his insurance to see if the latter vehicle was covered.
Gálvez found out about the flooding when he got a call from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, which he said did a good job of communicating with him throughout the flooding. He said in that moment he felt terrible because the shop is his livelihood.
“This is how I pay for my family," he said. "This is my only worth.”
He spent Friday cleaning the shop and working on the vehicle that was on his shop lift. He said as a small business owner he couldn’t afford to delay the work any longer.
“This is our livelihood," he said. "These things happen and there’s nothing to do but get back to work.”