Stewart's Renews Hope in Schoharie

One of first businesses to reopen after Hurricane Irene welcomed back by regulars

SCHOHARIE, N.Y. -- Stewart's Shops has reopened its convenience store in Schoharie, N.Y., which closed following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irene in late August and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in early September. "Only 52 days after Irene sank our shop, we're back in business," the company announced proudly on its website.

Albany Times Union reporter Dayelin Roman and photographer John Carl D'Annibale spent some time in the new Schoharie shop.

Michelle Griffin beamed as she walked in the door of the brand new Stewart's Shop and greeted the store manager, said the report.

"This is very exciting," she told the newspaper. "It's so emotional."

The opening of a Stewart's shop rarely triggers an emotional response. But in a village that was pummeled by Irene--a tempest that destroyed buildings, covered surviving structures and briefly isolate residents from the outside world--a simple grand opening gave residents a renewed sense of optimism, the report said.

"I live in the village and was flooded myself and this is such a big boost to rebuild," said Griffin. "We have to get businesses back here."

Griffin was part of a steady stream of customers at the store, which the company tore down because of the storm's damage. It is one of the first businesses to reopen in the village following the storms.

After the floods, the shop's large freezers floated in 7 feet of water that seeped inside. Company spokesperson Tom Mailey said Stewart's bought a home behind the shop which was also destroyed by flooding, leveled that building and used the land to expand the shop, add parking and extra gasoline dispensers.

The shop's employees were sent to the Stewart's in Middleburgh, where business was nearly doubled by the added demand from the customers from the Schoharie store.

Construction on the new store began just four days after the storms, and many customers remarked on how quickly the shop was reopened.

"In one way it's a return to routine," Mailey told the paper. "You'd get gas, see people you know behind the counter."

Click here to hear what more of the Schoharie store's regular customers think about its reopening in a YNN report and video.

Click here to view a Facebook photo album of the storm damage at Stewart's Schoharie shop. And click here to view a Facebook album of the Schoharie store's reopening.

See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage of the storm and Stewart's recovery.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Stewart's Shops is an employee and family-owned convenience store chain known for milk, ice cream, coffee, food to go, gasoline and more. There are 328 Stewart's Shops located in more than 30 counties across upstate New York and southern Vermont.