What it's like to own a small business on the front line of sea-level rise
Jamie Anderson's bookstore in Manteo, North Carolina, has flooded six times in eight years.
(Photo credit: County of Dare / Flickr)
North Carolina’s Outer Banks are dotted with vacation beaches and historic communities. But the sweeping water views do not only draw tourists. They give locals a front row seat to sea-level rise.
Many, like Jamie Anderson, face more frequent floods. Anderson is the owner of Downtown Books on Roanoke Island. Since she opened the store there eight years ago, it’s flooded six times, with anywhere from an inch to two feet of water.
Sometimes storms are the cause, and other times all it takes is wind and a high tide.
“No rain, no hurricane, but water’s an inch deep in my store,” Anderson says.
To protect her inventory, Anderson keeps books off the floor.
“We use lots of tables and don’t do anything to the floor,” she says. “We just kind of paint it with floor paint every couple of years because it’s going to get wet, so there’s no point having any carpet down there.”
Before big storms, she has what she calls “moving parties” where volunteers help her put everything up higher than three feet. And she packs up valuable items so she can take them with her.
Despite the hassle, Anderson plans to stay put. She says she’d lose customers if she moved.
“We’re going to tough it out and continue to be there,” she says. “And it’s just kind of part of our story.”