Landmark Raleigh seafood market reopens after tornado
Posted January 20, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Thanks to a special city permit, more than $100,000 in upgrades and patience, a landmark south Raleigh seafood market severely damaged by a tornado last spring reopened Friday.
Except for a few walls, Earp's Seafood Market on South Saunders Street had to be rebuilt from the ground up following the April 16 storm.
That process hit a few bumps along the way because of the difficulty of getting a 42-year-old building back up to code, but the family owners of the seafood market, known for its flounder fillets, persevered.
The Raleigh Board of Adjustment granted a special use permit in May allowing the owner, Nancy Earp Salmon, to make minor repairs to sidewalks, driveways and landscaping, but Salmon's insurance adjusters said more steps had to be made before the business could reopen.
The adjusters said the building had to salvage parts of the original walls. That changed the rebuilding plan, which required another permit. It slowed down the rebuilding effort, but it didn't stop it.
“It has been the worst thing. If it were to get hit again (by another storm), it would be God's will to stay down. I couldn't go through it again," Salmon said. "Nine months (of) never knowing from day to day, and my cousin is the contractor and the one who built it. He was our lifeline. If it had not been for him, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown.”
Salmon's mother, Mary Earp, cut the ribbon on the new building. Earp, 86, and her late husband opened the seafood market 43 years ago with $50 borrowed from her brother-in-law.
Customer Lisa Dorth Drew attended the reopening ceremony with her granddaughter and got teary-eyed as she bought shrimp, mussels, crabcakes and hush puppies.
"I'm happy that Earp's is open again. It's been a long time,” Drew said. "It was hard to come up South Saunders (after the tornado). So, when I saw this, I said, 'Oh my goodness,' but I'm happy (now)."
Salmon said the experience has taught her and her family a lot about their customers.
"They are so faithful," she said. "When you're gone nine months, you don't know if those people have found somewhere they'd rather go other than here, but they love Earp's. Look, I got chill bumps."