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Recovery Is Slow On Westport’s Main Street After Sandy

Allen Edmonds is one of several stores on Westport's Main Street heavily damaged by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
The floors and parts of the walls have been ripped out of Allen Edmonds due to flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
A restoration crew works inside the Nike store on Westport's Main Street on Wednesday evening. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
Banana Republic is one of 10 stores on Main Street still closed Wednesday due to Hurricane Sandy damage. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
The floors and parts of the walls were removed from inside Banana Republic due to flood damage. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari
A front window display area inside Allen Edmonds is stripped down to beams after Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Vanessa Inzitari

WESTPORT, Conn. – It’s been almost three weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit Westport, but Main Street is still feeling the effects of the storm. Although most merchants are up and running, nearly a dozen stores — all national retailers— were still closed for storm-related repairs Wednesday.

Having so many big-name stores closed affects business at the other stores along Main Street, independent store owner Victoria Schallert said.

“It’s been slow,” said Schallert, co-owner of the Brownstone. “This is something that affects the whole street because foot traffic is down.”

During the storm, the Saugatuck River overflowed its banks, flooding Main Street and surrounding areas downtown. Fire officials estimated that floodwaters reached at least 4 feet deep on Main Street. Some stores sustained more flood damage than others.

The following stores were still closed as of Wednesday evening: the Loft, Pottery Barn, Chico’s, Nike, Allen Edmonds, Theory, Ann Taylor, BCBG Max Azria, Banana Republic and LF. Of these 10 stores, seven are located on the west side of the street, closest to the river.

"We really feel lucky to be open," said Schallert, whose store is located next to LF. Her store saw minimal flooding, she said.

Most of the stores that are closed have covered their windows with plastic or paper to hide the damage. One exception was Allen Edmonds, a men’s shoe and apparel store that opened in August. Uncovered windows show that the store’s floors had to be ripped out, as well as parts of the walls.

The same could be seen through one uncovered window at Banana Republic, where signs on the windows say the store may be closed for several weeks.

Signs on other stores only tell shoppers the store intends to open "soon" or that it will be closed until further notice. Representatives from these retailers could not be reached for comment.

Schallert and business partner Mariana Reinhardt said they’ve heard that most of these retailers are hoping to open before Thankgiving, in time for Black Friday shopping.

“We’re hopeful,” Schallert said.“Many people don’t realize that us small retailers are here. It will be nice to have people moving around again."

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