Flash Flood Could Doom Ashland Foodland

By: Randy Yohe Email
By: Randy Yohe Email

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- It's tough enough these days running an independent grocery store in a world of corporate mega-marts.

But, when a completely unexpected flash flood steers a swollen creek through the cereal aisle, a challenge becomes a nightmare.

WSAZ.com's Randy Yohe looks at what may be the end of a neighborhood icon.

Bill Wheeler has owned the Foodland in downtown Ashland for 10 years. Tuesday’s freak flash flood wiped his grocery store out in 10 minutes.

With not grocery carts but mechanical mud squeegees running the food aisles, Wheeler says the foot of water that invaded his store is just too much to overcome.

Assistant Manager Dennis Clark is one of the 35 employees there who soon will likely be job hunting.

Wheeler had no flood insurance. He said he didn't need any, being a mile from the river.

This Foodland was also a popular payment agent for paying utility bills.

Wheeler says if it was a fallen tree that stopped up a culvert on city property that runs under the store and caused the flooding, maybe the city will help with the recovery. But, he says it will need to be a grant.

Ashland's mayor mayor says the city can't afford to help, but maybe the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can.

Wheeler, who started in 1960 at Kroger as the meat manager, says he’s never seen anything like this. Wheeler also says it’s ironic that the floor cleaning crew was due in Tuesday night -- they just didn't expect this big a job.

The grocery store owner has a meeting with the Small Business Administration set for Saturday morning.

We’ll let you know if there's a bail out.

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