By KEVIN BOWDEN
While water gushed down the stairwell of the First Citizens National Bank building in downtown Union City early today, the tears welled up in Richard Moran’s eyes.
The owner of the Snappy Tomato Pizza restaurant located inside the bank building got very emotional as he waded through the standing water that filled his restaurant’s dining area. He gingerly walked around fallen sections of ceiling tile and several inches of water as he made his way back to his office to retrieve his laptop computer.
“We’re just shocked and devastated,” Moran told The Messenger.
It was 18 years ago in August that Moran first opened Snappy Tomato Pizza at his downtown location. Now he is facing a major cleanup, but he said he will reopen the restaurant.
“We’ll be back bigger and stronger,” he said. “We just hate it for the workers and mainly for our customers, but Snappy is here to stay.”
Many of Moran’s friends and fellow restaurant owners stopped by the flood scene to offer their condolences and to offer their help to Moran in his hour of need. Meanwhile, he and members of the bank staff stood out on the sidewalk in the pouring rain as they helplessly watched water pour out of the building.
The Union City Public Works Department blocked off the section of South First Street that runs alongside the bank building. Crews were out early today trying to evacuate the water from the building’s flood ravaged areas.
Around 8 a.m., local contractor Allen Searcy and members of his staff arrived on the scene and entered the building to check the structure.
Officials on the scene told The Messenger the roof collapsed under the weight of the overnight rainfall. The extent of the damage was still being assessed early today.
Joe Ward, First Citizens National Bank’s northwest regional president, was joined by members of his staff as they met in the shutdown bank lobby this morning. The bank was closed due to the flooding, but Ward said he plans to have the bank reopened by Monday.
“I first got here at 6:30 and discovered water standing in the Financial Plus office,” Ward said. “We think it (the roof collapse) may have taken out the sprinkler system.”
“We’ve got our IT people on the scene and there are construction folks on the site. We’re working diligently to get us up and running again,” Ward said.
The majority of the damage appears to have hit the southeast section of the bank building, including the bank’s Tennessee Room.
“We’re going to try to reopen by Monday, at least that’s what I’m shooting for at this point in time,” Ward said. “We want to be able to take care of our customers, but we also want to make sure our bank is safe and secure.”
Meanwhile, Main Street-Union City executive director Phyllis Rauchle said she, too, was upset by news of the roof collapse and flooding at the downtown bank building.
“I’m devastated. My heart goes out to Richard Moran, the Snappy employees and patrons. Snappy is so vital to downtown Union City and Main Street will do everything we can to help them get back on their feet. We appreciate Snappy and First Citizens for what they do for Main Street, downtown and all of Union City,” Mrs. Rauchle said.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.11.13