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Six Months After Being Flooded by Floyd, Eastern NC Gets Back to Business as Usual

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ROCKY MOUNT — It took a lot of sweat and tears to get the soggy, muddy mess Floyd left behind cleaned up, and then the rebuilding began. That monumental task will last for years, but two Rocky Mount entrepreneurs are trying to get back to business as usual.

Six months to the day after taking a $7 million hit from Hurricane Floyd, theWalker-Ross printing companyis back in business.

Press operator Hoyt Craft says he and the other employees almost feel normal again.

"You kind of look around, and you see how everything used to look and how far we've come," Craft says.

Getting here was not easy. Employees collected unemployment checks and worked here off the clock to clean up the place. Managers never expected to reopen this quickly.

"We wouldn't have gotten here without the employees' help," says Marketing Director Laura Ellison. "They all volunteered and got in here and just did a great job cleaning. It wasn't a whole lot of fun, but they were all here helping us out."

Across town, restaurant owner Tommy Smith and his crew were also hustling to reopen. A few days ago, Smith opened his doors in a new location, for the first time since the flood.

The crowds are even bigger than before, as new customers join the faithful long-timers.

"I started going toBob Melton'swhen I was real little and Uncle Bob was here -- we called him -- and I have missed the food and everything about it," says customer Julia Bryant.

Smith is grateful for the support.

"It's just going to be a wonderful place. It's been a whole new set of problems dealing with the crowds we've had, but we're hiring people. We're getting adjusted, and everybody's getting tuned in to taking care of the customers," Smith says.

The "Now Open" signs are a welcome sight. Unfortunately, the state says as many as 1,000 businesses may be barely holding on or set to go under as a result of the flood.


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