Montclair is still in shock from Ida, but avenues of help emerge

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A sign outside of 511-515 Bloomfield Ave. indicates that the building was deemed dangerous for human occupation. The mixed residential and commercial building is home to Mesob, The Shade Store and a location for Ani Ramen which was originally slated to open earlier this month. (LOUIS C. HOCHMAN / STAFF)

By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
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Chris Egan doesn’t know when his two Walnut Street restaurants will reopen. Maybe Halcyon and Egan & Sons will be back in two weeks. Maybe six.

“We’re worse for wear,” said Egan, owner of the restaurants with his ex-wife Sharon. “And with the housing market as it is, every entrepreneur has already been lining up for months.”

This was true even before the night of September 1, when Ida’s floodwaters rushed through Montclair, filling the basements and upper floors of homes, restaurants and storefronts. Egan’s two restaurants are next to Toney’s Brook and “sort of at the foot of two hills,” he said. The cleanup continues – since Monday, he and his staff have walked through four dumpsters, clearing away inventory, furniture and damp and crumbling floors. Restaurants continued to pay their 96 workers until last week, but cannot do so until they reopen, Egan said.

Like many businesses and residents, they are still grappling with the reality of storm damage. But some avenues of relief have started to open.

Follow developing news on Ida’s impacts at Montclair

FEMA help available

On September 10, the Federal Emergency Management Agency added Essex County to its major disaster declaration for Ida, opening requests for federal funds to individuals and businesses suffering damage. A total of 11 New Jersey counties are now included.

Mayor Sean Spiller had said he was “shocked and angry” when Essex County was excluded from an initial statement on September 5. But he and other local officials celebrated the expansion. “We live from crisis to crisis, and our community is still reeling from the effects of COVID-19. We desperately needed this victory, ”said City Councilor Peter Yacobellis.

Residents of Essex County can now register for relief at assistancecatastrophe.gov. Applicants can register for home repair and temporary housing assistance and apply for low cost loans. Homeowners will need denial of coverage from their insurance company to complete the claims.

Ida Relief Fund

Residents continued to make donations in a fundraiser Yacobellis started to help Ida. The fund has supported grants of $ 500 to cover cleaning costs not covered by insurance for residents with family income of $ 100,000 or less. It also supported grants of $ 500 for renters from households earning $ 100,000 or less, to cover the cost of necessary personal goods.

This week, Yacobellis said the fund will also support up to $ 5,000 in $ 500 or $ 1,000 in grants, as needed, to nonprofits that have suffered damage at the Montclair premises. The fund will also support grants of $ 500 to cover the cost of replacing items such as HVAC equipment, telecommunications equipment or the Internet for residents with a family income of $ 100,000 or less. These grants are intended for residents without insurance, or to offset deductibles for those who have insurance.

And that would fund $ 5,000 in promotional and marketing support for a new business directory in loveourmontclair.com, created in collaboration between the Montclair Spiller COVID-19 Recovery Working Group, the Montclair Center Business Improvement District and consultants Teem Ventures. This includes an advertisement in this week’s edition of Montclair Local.

The fundraiser is on Facebook and can be found by searching for “Advisor Yacobellis Montclair Fund for Ida Relief”. Links to grant and support applications are available on the fundraising page. As of Tuesday, he had raised over $ 41,000.

LoveOurMontclair.com

The repertoire itself is an outgrowth of several earlier efforts. A previous campaign had encouraged residents to “Shop.Eat.Repeat” (the associated site now redirects to LoveOurMontclair.com). And Yacobellis, Spiller and Deputy Mayor Bill Hurlock announced the “Love Our Montclair” concept in social media newspapers last year.

The new directory, according to Raj Amin, founding partner of Teem Ventures and head of the task force’s small business subcommittee, is seen as a centralized location to promote all of Montclair’s businesses. About 125 had signed this week, and he hopes for hundreds more in the near future. Visitors can filter by business type or by neighborhood.

It was originally intended as a resource to help support businesses during the pandemic. Now it also includes resource pages for Ida’s Rescue Opportunities. Amin envisions the site being updated frequently to reflect the needs of the business community.

Shop.Eat.Repeat had focused on discounts and promotions. LoveOurMontclair.com, he said, is an ever greener resource. Small businesses often have to compete with big box stores and online retailers, and may not be able to deliver the same sales, “but they focus on quality and are part of our community,” he said. -he declares.

The site is funded by a state grant administered by the Center Montclair BID, he said.

Montclair Film has begun cleaning and sanitizing the entire lobby level of its Bloomfield Avenue office, which adjoins the lower portion of the North Fullerton Avenue parking lot and has been inundated. The lobby level needs to be cleared, according to the group’s executive director.
COURTESY FILM MONTCLAIR

Companies, associations in difficulty

Some of the businesses hardest hit by Ida were on or near Bloomfield Avenue, in Montclair’s North Fullerton Avenue parking area, where water spread over cars and SUVs.

Outside the shared residential and commercial building at 511-515 Bloomfield Ave. – which is home to The Shade Store, Ethiopian restaurant Mesob and a new location for Ani Ramen which was due to open on flood week – was a sign declaring it unsafe for the occupation.

A fundraiser on GoFundMe.com, “Help Save 515 Bloomfield Ave. Building “, had raised $ 1,575 as of Tuesday. According to the campaign, water levels had risen more than 5 feet in the building, knocking down walls in a shared basement. The municipality’s construction department also said there had been electrical damage.

The Montclair Film offices, adjacent to the bridge, suffered significant damage to the lobby level. Executive director Tom Hall said laptops, cameras, audio equipment and hard drives have all been lost and many building materials need to be replaced.

Right now, that leaves an open question as to how the organization will organize fall classes, although Hall said the experience of holding remote sessions during the pandemic could be helpful.

But two major events will not be affected, he said: The 10th annual Montclair Film Festival remains scheduled for October 21-30. Hall said details are expected to be announced by the end of this month. Montclair Film also plans to reopen the closed Clairidge theaters in October, as previously announced. The theater was spared a lot of damage, Hall said.

He welcomes help from the community, but the group is still trying to determine what help would be helpful.

“I think there is a lot of need out there right now, so we appreciate the generosity,” Hall said.

CVS on Bloomfield Avenue ripped off his carpets on Wednesday, September 8, a week after the floods. A resident, Iris Lewis, told the Montclair local that prior to this, the odors in the building made her sick and that she was concerned for the safety of workers, although Montclair Health Services and the Essex County said they had not received any complaints.

Still closed, Samba Montclair, which lost $ 50,000 in broken appliances and $ 6,000 in spoiled food when its basement flooded, thanked community members on Facebook for “the generous outpouring of love, of faith and contributions ”. A GoFundMe campaign, “Help save and restore Samba Montclair!Had raised more than $ 28,000 on Tuesday.

Efi Mihalis, owner of Efi’s Gyro, said it was able to open three days after the flood, but after losing more than $ 5,000 of meat – including products imported from Greece – and all of its freezers. Ricardo Patel, director of The Wine Guys on Bloomfield Avenue, said staff were still sorting through inventory that could be kept, but had already destroyed around 70% of what was in inventory. The cellar opened the day after the flood.

At Let’s Yo! The owner of a yogurt store, Rajiv Gupta, said he was able to open almost immediately – the damage was to his basement, but not his storefront. But he lost all of his inventory, he said. A GoFundMe campaign, “Help restore Let’s Yo! Montclair after the floodHad raised $ 1,200 on Tuesday.

“Right now I’m working on fumes. I don’t have an inventory as a backup, ”he said.

For his part, Egan was working on replacing wood and marble floors, furniture, equipment and food. In the pandemic, he said, his restaurants were fortunate enough to be able to offer outdoor space. For now, he is not seeking the support of fundraisers.

“I think there are worse cases than ours for this type of donation,” he said. “Everything will be fine, and I’m sure it will. The people have been very good and we have a good relationship with our suppliers and our banks. … And we can close the doors after a long day and come to a dry house.

Other help

  • New Jersey residents who have lost vehicles and need help accessing essential services can text “NJIDARIDE” to 898-211 to request a free or discounted Lyft or Uber ride.
  • The New Jersey Economic Development Authority plans to launch an application for the Business Assistance Grant program at 9 a.m. on Friday, September 17, online at njeda.com/henri-ida-relief.
  • The The Red Cross offers a shelter finder on redcross.org – select “Get help” then “Find an open shelter”.

– Includes reporting by Jaimie Julia Winters and Andrew Garda


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