Athens Revival: One Year After The Flood
"You're not able to walk through one business in this town now without seeing brand new everything," said Dave Rosenbloom, who owns Jay's Furniture and Carpeting in Athens.
"A second chance." "The silver lining." "Bigger and better." Those are just just a few of the phrases people in Athens are using to describe the way their community bounced back from the devastating floods one year ago.
Rosenbloom's business lost everything in the flood.
"We had rolls of padding all over the street," he said. "There was lots of merchandise floating out the front windows when the glass broke, so it was really amazing."
Rosenbloom is rebuilding and expanding the business on his own dime, and the South Main Street location will be open in about a month.
"We have lost 41 businesses that were devastated by the flood and out of that 41, 35 have returned and are opened," said Deanna Barrett, president of Athens Business Association. "That's a great accomplishment in that one year's time, and we're quite proud of that."
The street festival and ribbon cutting ceremony today brought tears to people's eyes as they reflected on the teamwork and dedication it took to get downtown Athens back on its feet.
"I think that this is a great event because it lets people know that we really are back," said Athens resident Ruth Houser. "Maybe people have been avoiding downtown because for such a long time it was a disaster area."
"I could have walked away, I guess," said Rosenbloom. "But this is sort of in my DNA, if you know what I mean. It's like what I wanted to do."
The street festival runs through tomorrow. They've got food and craft stands, and you can even take a tour of some of the newly renovated businesses on South Main Street.