CANTON — It’s been more than four months since Tom Wilson’s American Cleaners location was filled with 5 feet, 2 inches of flood water. The business still isn’t open, yet Wilson and his 10 employees haven’t missed a day’s work.
Thanks to competitors in the region, though, Wilson and his staff were able to work during the off hours at dry cleaning places in Asheville and Sylva to keep the business going. Both the Candler and Waynesville locations were spared from flooding, so customers were referred there for pickup.
The bottom 5-6 inches of clothing that was hung as high as possible when Wilson realized the business would be hit by yet another flood got wet, but all were able to be cleaned and were returned to customers unstained. Only two comforters that were missed in the turmoil of trying to save as much as possible were washed downstream, Wilson said, noting the owners were very understanding.
While there is plenty of hustle and bustle at the Canton site where the dry-cleaning part of the business is operational, the lack of computers has prevented the location from being open to customers.
Wilson had flood insurance, but it was only enough to cover the mortgage on the building. He estimates damages above and beyond that amount at $200,000 minimum.
“My CPA asked me if I would sell or close down,” said Wilson, who is 83. “I told him I’d keep going.”
Part of the reason was his brand new equipment purchased recently that worked fine once the motors were replaced.
All that’s left now is to count the days when the computer pieces, that are “somewhere between China and Chicago” arrive, Wilson said.