My studio is in a detached garage at the back end of our property. We live within walking distance of the ocean and the Shrewsbury River in Rumson, New Jersey. During the past 7-1/2 years we’ve been here the floor has gotten damp during heavy rainstorms, but had never flooded until super storm Sandy hit. At high tide during the storm our house was completely surrounded by water (fortunately our living space stayed dry). A picket fence in front of my studio was completely under water except for the very top and my studio had 3’ of water in it.
I’ve always sewn, so when I became a stay-at-home parent it was a natural transition to start sewing for others. It is such a ‘tiny’ business that I never bothered getting business insurance or thought to include any of my equipment on our flood or homeowner’s policy. I’ve invested money in fabric and equipment, but nothing to secure what I’ve invested.
Since the floor has previously gotten wet everything is raised off of the floor or is in plastic bins. The exception to this, and one of the things I really regret not taking care of was my patterns, which were stored in metal filing cabinets. Many of my patterns ended up in the trash, some I was able to dry by hanging on a drying rack. The other thing I regret was not bringing my machines in the house instead of leaving them in the studio. I had unplugged them and brought the pedals onto the sewing tables but the water was so high one table was under water and the other actually floated dumping my serger under water.
What would I do in the future? Store my patterns in plastic bins and place them high up at any threat of a large storm. Bring my machines in the house. Store everything in containers that are easily transportable to raise them higher off the ground or bring them inside. Reduce the amount of excess ‘stuff’ I tend to have and not get rid of. This would give me less to sort through, organize, and move if this happens again.
Is there a positive aspect of to the storm? My fabric has all been washed and sorted, most of the fabric that got wet was washable and the ‘precious’ fabric was unharmed.
Also, oddly positive, is that I had broken my wrist in September,so I could not sew for a while and had no client work in my studio. Since I’ve had this unintended break from client work, it’s given me time to re-think my business, identifying areas that I did not like and would like to improve. I plan on opening again in January more focused, more profitable, and more assured.
Written by Wendy Cettina, ASDP member