Hurricane Arthur no match for East Coast bookstores

(Courtesy of Downtown Books in Manteo, N.C.)
(Courtesy of Downtown Books in Manteo, N.C.)

Just a few days after we featured several East Coast bookstores in our special summer reading feature, they were walloped by Hurricane Arthur.

Downtown Books in Manteo, N.C., took in about eight inches of water on the Fourth of July. “When the backside of the storm came around, it blew the water in,” said owner Jamie Layton. “And then the water went out about two hours later. Luckily, it didn’t have a lot of mud in it. So we pumped it out, and vacuumed it out. You gotta bleach it; you gotta mop it.”

The store’s refrigerator was ruined, and Layton estimates that she lost about $600 in inventory. Her store is situated in “the lowest spot in town,” so she knew to prepare as Hurricane Arthur closed in. “We cleared everything 2½ feet off the floor.”

A duck decoy floats in Downtown Books after Hurricane Arthur. Owner Jamie Layton says, "I can't find him today." (Courtesy of Downtown Books)
A duck decoy floats in Downtown Books after Hurricane Arthur. Owner Jamie Layton says, “I can’t find him today.” (Courtesy of Downtown Books)

In 2011, after Hurricane Irene soaked her building with 36 inches of water, the previous owner ripped up the carpeting and stripped the floor down to the concrete. “It’s not the prettiest floor,” Layton said, “but technically you could just come in and hose it down.”

This morning, she’s already got her computer up and running — along with three wet vacs. And the store opened as usual at 10 a.m. “Things are still up off the floor,” she said, “but if they want to buy it, I can sell it today.”

A clerk at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Del., said they had “a little flooding in the store, but that’s usual.” They didn’t lose any merchandise, though. “We didn’t even close. The weather cleared up by the afternoon, and the usual Fourth of July festivities went on as planned.”

Duck’s Cottage in Duck, N.C., and Island Bookstore in Corolla, N.C., suffered no damage at all.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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