Niles business destroyed by rising floodwaters
NILES, Mich. -- Custom Computer Company in downtown Niles has suffered more than $100,000 in damages to inventory alone from flooding that swallowed parts of the city on Wednesday.
“I left here last night at like 1 o’clock and it wasn’t flooded at all yet,” said Michael Reed, the owner of the company. “So when I got home, I figured I was in the clear, at least til morning. But I had a voicemail from my dad, who drove by it on his way to work at 5 o’clock, and said that it’s pretty bad. And then I woke up at 7, I showed up and I mean, everything was just destroyed.”
Over 400 computers, 1,000 video games, and dozens of gaming consoles were lost in floodwaters that took over parts of the city after consecutive days of heavy rainfall.
On Wednesday afternoon, ABC57’s Taylor Popielarz rode by boat with Reed and his coworker to take a look at the damage inside the computer repair store.
While slugging through close to three feet of water inside his shop, Reed explained he knew the building was in a flood zone when he purchased it just over a year ago, but he said he was never told it was this vulnerable.
He has flood insurance, but he said he found out that it only covers the building and not the inventory inside it.
“When they said it was going to flood, I’m like, ‘Oh, well they said the worst case is 10 feet from the door might be underwater,’” Reed recounted. “And I’m thinking a few inches. It’s front to back. I mean, it’s past that. It’s the next building over.”
Reed and his coworkers had spent much of Tuesday night placing their inventory high on shelves and in a loft they have. But when he returned Wednesday morning, Reed said at least one of the shelves had been lifted by the high waters and toppled over.
Right across the street from Custom Computer Company, a tow truck was helping a driver get his SUV out of waist-deep water early Wednesday afternoon.
The man’s wife said the flooding in their apartment complex seemed to happen instantly in the morning.
“I’ve been here 31 years,” Cascell Looney said. “Never seen [flooding like this].”
Nearby, the Save-A-Lot and local movie theater in Niles were two of several businesses being guarded by sandbags as the water kept rising.
Back inside Reed’s business, the floor boards floated around like they had never been installed.
“We want to rebuild,” Reed said. “I mean, we have to rebuild. And we’re starting from nothing. Literally, we’re going to have to start from nothing.”
Reed and his coworkers have started a GoFundMe account to help raise money to get the business back on its feet. He estimated they had lost over $100,000 in inventory alone, not including damage to the building.
As of Wednesday evening, the floodwaters were still rising in parts of downtown Niles, including near Lakeland Hospital.