MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Some New Jersey businesses already struggling because of the pandemic took another hit from last week’s storm.
Ilson Goncalves, the owner of Samba Montclair, sold his home after the pandemic hit to save his restaurant. He used the $180,000 from that sale to expand his space so that customers could eat indoors safely, but he feels Mother Nature is putting everything he’s taking chances on down the drain.READ MORE: ‘I’m Losing My House To Coronavirus’: Samba Montclair Owner Ilson Gonclaves Provides Meals For Hungry Despite Financial Struggles
If it wasn’t one thing for Goncalves, it was another. He captured the power behind last week’s storm on his cell phone.
“The water came so fast,” he told CBS2’s Cory James.
It flooded his basement, destroying $8,000 worth of food and damaging his newly purchased air conditioning system.
“Everything went to garbage,” he said. “And FEMA come out with $1,000 to $5,000. What am I going to do with $5,000 if my damage is over $64,000?”
Now Goncalves, along with other nearby small business owners in Montclair, are bracing for another round of severe weather.
“It’s really hard. It’s really hard,” he said. “I’m trying to hold myself to be a strong man, but I can’t because I don’t know. Tonight is going to rain again.”READ MORE: Ida’s Aftermath: Elected Officials Tour Paterson, Return To In-Person Learning Delayed In Some N.J. School Districts
It’s a hard reality for neighbors like Matt McRoberts, who is banned from his home because of damage from the last storm.
“It was so tough,” he said. “Just to see everyone struggle. It was, like, very hard to see.”
For now, people in the community are doing what they can to help each other out, including Goncalves’ contractor.
“I came here at night. There was water waist-high,” contractor Prince Narang said.
Goncalves believes if that happens again, the damage this time will be permanent.
“I really have to close my business because I don’t know how I’m going to survive for the next one. What’s the next?” he said.
Goncalves had sandbags in front of his doors Wednesday night, hoping if the rain comes down hard, he will be in a better position this go-round.MORE NEWS: Ida’s Aftermath: Manville, N.J. Resident Recounts How Flood Waters Went From His Ankles To Shoulders In Minutes
He is known in the community for donating food to local organizations, and now people have set up a GoFundMe page to help him stay open. To donate, click here.