Just more than a year ago, business activity in the flood-soaked village of Schoharie shut down.
But one by one, landowners and proprietors are finding their way home, and it’s a return that wouldn’t be possible without the help of a wide network of volunteers and agencies, as well as a multimillion-dollar grant program put forth by utility National Grid.
Company representatives gathered with officials and business owners Wednesday to celebrate another successful recovery at 329 Main St., a flood-wrecked apartment house that owners Julie and Bob Langan decided not to tear down.
After roughly $70,000 in reconstruction, the two-story home now serves as apartments and the new home of the You’re Worth It Salon and Day Spa, a business situated across the street last year before it was inundated by the Schoharie Creek just shy of its 10-year anniversary.
Some 274 of 290 structures in Schoharie flooded last year, Schoharie Community Development Corp. board member Richard Ball said. Today, he counts 23 businesses operating along Main Street.
“That’s not bad. We’re making good progress,” he said.
National Grid provided the Langans — who saw their funeral home next-door flooded, as well — with a $25,000 grant from its Emergency Main Street Revitalization program initiated a month after last year’s floodwaters receded. It’s a program that helped some make the decision to stay rather than leave, said Joseph D. Russo, National Grid’s program manager for economic development in upstate New York.
“The alternative was, ‘Do I do it at all? Do I walk away?’ ” he said.
Russo described National Grid’s emergency grants as one piece of a major support network that developed quickly in the hard-hit Schoharie Valley and helped residents and business owners feel they were not alone in their grief.
“It takes that kind of support system to get people to say ‘I’m not going to walk away,’ ” he said.
Julie Langan said the family considered “bulldozing” the building, but that support system made it possible and affordable to stay.
“We couldn’t have done it without National Grid ... and somebody saying it’s going to work,” she said. “It hopefully brought a little back to the community.”
The Langans offered You’re Worth It salon owner Tammy Hotaling space in the refurbished building, and she and four employees have worked since June.
Hotaling said her customers didn’t abandon her, either. Many followed her to Cobleskill in the yearlong aftermath of the disaster and got their perms and highlights from their favorite hairdressers at the If Looks Could Kill salon, where owners opened up some space to help out.