Morgantown business remains closed more than a week after a major flood

Monongalia and Preston

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Shorty Anderson Auto Services is still closed more than a week after a major rainstorm led to wide-scale flooding in the area.

Co-owner, Travis Rowan, said the cause of the flood was how the rain affected a large construction site right behind his business.

“It was very bad,” Rowan said. “We had a lot of mud, most of it coming off the construction behind us. They did not have a silt fence in place. They told us they did not have their pipe for their water retention pond hooked up, so it basically just blew out and gave us all the water at once.”

As a result, the business is shut down as they try to clean up all the remaining mud and assess how badly their tools and equipment were damaged.

When Rowan and his brother, with who he owns Shorty’s, approached the general contractor on the day of the flood, the contractor told them: “it is what it is”. That response left them in shock because, as they see it, their business was not at fault.

Rowan is hoping that they have some legal recourse and or that Shorty’s can receive much-needed help from its insurer.

“We have talked to lawyers,” Rowan said. “Right now, we’re letting the insurance company sort things out and see how that goes. But, I’m not really sure at this point. I would assume we do. The lawyers sound pretty confident that we do, and there’s a lot of proof that things weren’t done the way they were supposed to be done up there.”

Rowan standing outside his closed business more than a week after the flood

The legal and insurance processes, Rowan said, are “slow” moving. An adjuster has been on-site to assess the situation. However, to fully file a claim, Rowan and his brother will need to get an estimate for the cleanup, as well as, find out which tools and parts were ruined.

It’s going to be “a process”, Rowan said, and he’s not sure when they can reopen the auto shop.

“We’ve been down for over a week now,” Rowan said. “It’s not good.” 

Customers and potential clients have been calling and all Rowan can do is tell them what happened and that they are working to fix the situation and open up as soon as possible.

They’ve had to move most of their equipment out of the shop and rely on a backup site.

“We do have what we considered, kind of, our overflow spot, where we did bigger jobs,” Rowan said. “It’s not a storefront, no customers, so we do still have a little bit of work going on. But, this place generates the majority of our money and so it’s very hard.”

Outside Shorty’s

Shorty’s is located right outside of the Morgantown city limits, so it cannot turn to the city for too much help. But, Rowan said, they have reached out to the Morgantown Utility Board (MUB), which is in charge of helping to clean up after the flood.

He said they contacted MUB because all of the drains and ditches are “completely plugged” and he is afraid of what will happen if another major rainstorm hits the area.

Shorty’s co-owner said he’s not concerned that things will be as bad as the first time because, after the flood, the construction site made the necessary improvements, albeit too late. The flood happened on a Sunday and improvements were not made until the next day in anticipation of an inspection.

“They worked tirelessly to put in a silt fence and get their pipe in the ground before the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) came because they knew the DEP was coming on Tuesday,” Rowan said. “So, when DEP arrived, they assumed all the proper measures were in place when the flood happened, which they haven’t been. They have seen the video that it wasn’t, so we got that taken care of. Morgantown Utility Board told me they’re so backed up they don’t know when they’ll get these dishes cleaned.”  

Shorty’s

Because of their location on the edge of the city limit and how busy MUB is, Rowan and his brother are turning to the county.

Monongalia Co., he said, has a lot of questions to answer about how they allowed a construction site to be so negligent and cause severe damage to his business.

All he wants, Rowan said, is accountability and for his business to return to normal.

Travis Rowan

I’d like my business back open. I think, you know, this was obviously approved by the Mon County Planning Commission. I’d like to know if they’ve been coming out checking on this site. I mean, they approved it, so I mean, somebody engineered this, somebody approved it. Obviously, it didn’t work. I know it was a large rain and we probably would have got some water, but with the silt fence not being up, all of our drains outside were completely covered in debris and the water had nowhere to go. I mean, as soon as we got here and shoveled off the drains, the water went away. So, I just think had the proper measures been put in place up there, somebody had been keeping an eye on them — somebody really needs to keep an eye on these job sites. You can’t just let him go and have no checks and balances.  

Travis Rowan – Co-Owner, Shorty Anderson Auto Services

The DEP, Rowan said, tries its best to keep construction sites accountable, but the brunt of responsibility falls on the planning commission. It needs to “do a better job policing job sites”, he said.

Rowan said he would like to know who’s qualified at the Planning Commission to approve a project like this because the approval process does not seem to be as rigorous as it ought to be.

As he waits for answers and, possibly even, accountability, Rowan said he and his brother will keep doing their best to clean things up and work on estimates for the insurance company. They will, also, continue talking to lawyers to figure out if they have a legal case.

He said he was grateful for all customers and members of the public who have shown support to Shorty’s in these trying times and asks for patience as they work to fix the situation.

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s been supporting us and, you know, has called and checked on us and everything. But other than that, we’re just going to try to get cleaned up and get back at it,” said Rowan.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Link to 12 things you need to know page

WBOY 12 News Facebook Page

Trending Stories