The Ohio River crested at 38' in February 2018, three feet above the flood stage. Downtown businesses anxiously watched local river gauges, waiting for the City of Marietta to share updates on expected river height. As river waters rose, one by one business owners decided to shift inventory to higher ground and load up their furniture on trucks.
"It was heartening to see the youth of our community jump into the cause. Experiences like that can become the cornerstone of a lifetime commitment to community service,” shares Tim Glover, member of the Main Street Board of Directors.
The Marietta community rallied together in true fashion. Hundreds of volunteers flocked to the streets, looking for any opportunity to help. Some businesses sponsored meals and water bottles for volunteers while others offered room to rest their helping hands. Gratitude was on display around every corner, and Marietta once again proved resilient in the face of adversity.
In the midst of recruiting volunteers, coordinating supply distribution, managing communication across social media outlets, and connecting with businesses in need, Main Street director Cristie Thomas fielded many questions from locals and once-locals about how to make financial contributions to the relief efforts.
"It was incredible to watch the passion of our community come alive. So many folks gave of their time freely, without expectation of personal benefit. And, when people weren't able to give of their time, they were reaching out with phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages asking who to write a check to," shares Thomas.
The Marietta Community Foundation quickly began promoting the Washington County Disaster Relief Fund as an opportunity for donors to financially support flood relief efforts. One local institution in particular, Marietta College, answered the call by issuing a challenge to the their Board of Trustees to support the Washington County Disaster Relief Fund.
"The reaction from the challenge was overwhelmingly generous. Initiated by Trustee Andrew Ferguson, the challenge resulted in more than $5,000 contributed to the Fund from the Marietta College Board of Trustees. Inspired by the Board’s generosity, the Marietta Community Foundation responded with a match of its own," shares Heather Allender, President of the Marietta Community Foundation.
The generosity of the community resulted in the Foundation awarding $2,500 to Marietta Main Street to then award to local small businesses who were impacted by the flooding in February, via an application process. Eligible applicants were able to submit funding requests for damage repair, cleaning supplies and cleanup efforts, either completed or pending for completion. Initially, the intent was to only award up to $500 per applicant.
"We received applications from a variety of businesses with total damages across applications equaling upwards of $54,000. Funding applications ranged in need, from new equipment purchases to building maintenance and care to cleaning supplies," shared Main Street Director, Cristie Thomas.
The three applications that were chosen were from Boathouse BBQ, The Original Pizza Place, and Twisted Sisters Boutique in downtown Marietta.
"Due to the flooding in our basement, we lost our tankless water tank, which we replaced after two lost business days, estimating a total loss of $6,000," shared Kasandra Pruscitto, owner of The Original Pizza Place on Second Street.
Pruscitto added, "Our tankless hot water heater in our basement is required by the City of Marietta Health Department to be open and serving food. When we were finally able to access it, the water tank's electric panel was destroyed and could not be salvaged."
Steve Thomas, owner of Boathouse BBQ on Virginia Street, shared a similar story.
"The Boathouse was shut down for 19 days. Flood waters damaged windows, walls, floors, and equipment. The relief funds would mostly be used to repair paint and replace damaged areas," shared Peters.
Debbie Cline, co-owner of Twisted Sisters Boutique on Front Street, requested funds to repair damages and maintain their building.
"The funds will be used to clean the basement of mold and flood debris. Our basement received 5' of water and the mold, dirt and debris needs to be removed," shared Cline.
Becky Pritchett, also co-owner of Twisted Sisters Boutique and sister to Debbie, was grateful to have been awarded funding.
"It was an honor and a great relief to be a recipient of the relief funds. During flood events there can be many costs involved. Packing materials, truck rentals, loss of income, etc. By receiving this gift it helped ease both the financial and physical burden of part of the cleanup," said Pritchett.
Sarah Arnold, Communications & Program Services Director for the Marietta Community Foundation, worked in partnership with Marietta Main Street to both promote the relief funds and award applicants with monies.
"We were pleased to join our partners at Marietta College and in the community to help those impacted by last month’s flooding. While we were fortunate that the river did not raise any higher, many businesses were affected throughout the region. We are proud to partner with Marietta Main Street to offer much needed assistance to several businesses who suffered damages from the high waters," said Arnold.