Here’s How to Help South Orange-Maplewood Businesses Recover From Flood

by Mary Barr Mann
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Many businesses in South Orange Downtown, Maplewood Village and other commercial areas throughout the towns were hard hit by flooding on Wednesday, September 1, that inundated basements and in many cases first floor retail space.

Now they need your help.

Melissa Hodge of South Orange Downtown, Nicole Wallace of the Springfield Avenue Partnership, and Cat Delett of Maplewood Village Alliance are using social media to keep locals updated on closures, reopenings and funds and efforts to help businesses recover. Another great source of information on local businesses is Shop Local SoMa, a Facebook group run by Kimaya Salaskar, proprietor of Kimaya Kama in Maplewood Village.

Delett has been in the Village since Thursday morning, September 2, visiting businesses and merchants. On Thursday, Delett reported, “Most are very busy cleaning and working to reopen. The hardest-hit businesses were in the middle of the Village, on Maplewood Ave from Baker to Inwood, and on Highland Place.”

Although many of the shops in that area remained closed on Thursday, by that evening restaurants such as Arturo’s and Coda were already reopening for business.

Delett noted that most of the shops on Baker St. were open, as were the businesses at either end of the Village.

One business that may take longer to return is Palmer’s Sweetery at the corner of Highland and Maplewood. A gofundme has been created to raise funds to help business owner Kia Palmer reopen. Meanwhile, the building’s entire electrical system needs to be rebuilt, according to the landlord.

Kia Palmer says she has been overwhelmed by the support coming from customers and local residents. “We wish we could respond to each of you individually but it’s hard to do right now,” she wrote on Facebook after a cleanup crew of volunteers helped clear mud and remove debris from the shop.

Realtor Vanessa Pollock was among those organizing cleanups for local businesses including The Order in South Orange Village, True Salvage Cafe in Maplewood’s Borden Park neighborhood and Millburn Co-op Preschool at St. George’s Church.

“PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go eat and drink coffee at The Order in South Orange and True Salvage Cafe the MOMENT they open back up!” wrote Pollock. (True Salvage has also created a gofundme.)

Springfield Avenue Partnership posted a link to a $10 million small business grant program announced by Gov. Phil Murphy in the aftermath of the storm.

In a sign of optimism and determination, both Maplewood Village and South Orange Downtown hosted outdoor music on Saturday, September 4.

“We hope that everyone shows their support for all the merchants and businesses in the Village when they do reopen by shopping, dining, and hiring local,” said Delett. “This has been just one more hit for small businesses at what is already a rough time.”

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