Nearly one year after devastation was brought by Hurricane Matthew’s flood waters, one local business has returned to the offices it has called home for more than 50 years.
A grand reopening ceremony was held Tuesday morning at the Star Communications offices located on U.S. 421. The 23,000 square foot facility was destroyed when flood waters rushed in just hours after the wind and rain from last year’s hurricane hit the area.
For the last 10 months, the main offices have been closed, sending customers to the retail location in the Coharie Plaza shopping center to handle business. The main offices officially reopened for business two weeks ago, after undergoing major renovations and construction to fix the damage left behind from Matthew’s flood waters.
“One can only imagine the damage and devastation to the inside of our buildings,” Star’s general manager Jeff Nethercutt shared with those attending the ribbon cutting ceremony. “I truly feel sympathy for those people in Texas and Florida that have been affected by recent storms.”
According to Nethercutt, 50 employees were displaced by the damage from the storm, which left six to eight inches of water throughout the building. Sheetrock, insulation, cabinets, flooring and furniture all had to be removed and replaced.
In all, there was more than $1 million of damage to the building — that Nethercutt added, doesn’t include the extent of the damage done to outside facilities across the county and damage to lines where flood waters washed away roads.
“The recovery period is in no way easy for anyone,” Nethercutt explained, adding that the 50 employees were temporarily relocated to the warehouse just outside the city limits, the retail store, the Elizabethtown office and property downtown.
For Nethercutt and the Star employees, the number one priority following the storm was customers and making sure they were taken care of and business would move as usual.
Within two days, the business was up and running. Employees that could make it to the main offices came and helped remove items that were salvageable and help relocate people to other areas.
“It’s very important to take care of the customers and that’s what we did,” Nethercutt pointed out.
While Nethercutt admits that the last 10 months have been somewhat of an inconvenience to the customers, he says the business has plans that will better accommodate the customers in the future.
“For years our drive through service wasn’t available,” Nethercutt explained. “In about a month, we will have that option up and running again. We understand that sometimes you have that mother with kids in the car or an elderly person that doesn’t want to get out in the weather. We want to make it easy for them.”
Nethercutt, who has been working for the company since 1995, says he has seen the water level in the creek beside the building rise on many occasions like hurricanes Floyd and Fran, but never to the extent of the water left behind from Matthew.
“I have seen a lot of water before, but never to that extent,” Nethercutt said. “It was running in both ends of the building.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.