Business Owner Says Drainage Ditch Could Be To Blame For Hurricane Matthew Flooding

Atlantic Resources Inc. (ARI) owner Brian Barefoot says loses to date to his South Brightleaf Boulevard business from Hurricane Matthew are at $864,000. Barefoot appeared before the Smithfield Town Council Tuesday night asking for assistance investigating a drainage ditch behind his property to see if it was properly maintained by the NC DOT and CSX Railroad prior to the flooding. Photo

The owner of a Smithfield business says losses from Hurricane Matthew are approaching one million dollars.

Last October, floodwaters from Matthew damaged a building owned by Atlantic Resources Inc. (ARI) located on South Brightleaf Boulevard.

ARI, which started in 2010 by Brian and Tonya Barefoot with locations in North and South Carolina, was hoping to consolidate in one location once remodeling was completed at the former Gerald building. The hurricane postponed those efforts indefinitely.

During Tuesday night’s Smithfield Town Council meeting, Mr. Barefoot told members of the board his losses have now reached $864,000. Of that amount, $385,000 is out-of-pocket losses he isn’t sure he can recover.

Barefoot said four months later ARI is running at about 60 percent of their normal capacity, with a staff of 16 employees.

Barefoot asked the Town of Smithfield’s assistance with an engineer to explore if a drainage ditch behind his property may have led to the flooding of the ARI facility. Barefoot said the NC Department of Transportation and CSX Railroad are responsible for properly maintaining the ditch. He said he wants to know if the DOT and CSX properly maintained the ditch to prevent flooding issues.

Barefoot has not taken advantage of a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan because of the red tape being required, including costly flood insurance.

In 2015, ARI received a $175,000 grant to support the reuse of a vacant building that is now their home.  Barefoot has yet to be able to add the 35 new jobs he was hoping. Those jobs will pay an average salary of $42,000 annually.  The Town of Smithfield is administering the state grant at no cost to local taxpayers.