Millburn businesses slowly recover following devastating flood caused by Ida

Dozens of businesses in an Essex County town were destroyed by Hurricane Ida. Now, five months later, hopeful reopenings are tempered by empty storefronts.
Flooding severely damaged the businesses along Millburn Avenue in Millburn. Many of those businesses have now moved out of the area or are still under construction for repairs.
Garden State Hemp is open for business. It only took $35,000 and a little over three months to do so.
“It’s been a tidal wave of emotions – to depressed, to excited about reopening, to hopeful or doubtful that we are able to reopen,” says Garden State Hemp co-owner Carl Burwell.
The flooding came from the Rahway River. To come back from something like that, it takes a lot of help. Between the town, state and a GoFundMe, Garden State Hemp raised about $20,000. And because they are good tenants, the landlord covered the rest.
"I tried to do my best to bring them back and you know, you don't want to lose a good tenant. At the same time, plus the fact that it was my obligation,” says landlord Jafar Tabib.
The flood forced Tabib to shut down his own business for two months. He was out hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has been selling rugs for nearly 50 years. But he says he has never seen anything like this before.
“Horrible time. Two months of a horrible time,” says Tabib.
Other business owners couldn't afford to wait and clean up. High Line Fashion suffered a direct hit, but only closed for a few days after a scramble to find a new location.
"Because otherwise, once you close, people kind of forget about you. You kinda lose that momentum,” says owner Tammi Siedlecki.
She says she is proud to show off her new store, located up the block.
Empty shop windows can bring down business. But there is a sense of optimism in Millburn. After Ida, they can get through anything.
"Especially seeing just how much the community came out to help… You know, you always know that they're there, but when they show up, it’s a whole different story,” says Garden State Hemp co-owner Johnathan Rojas.
The town has formed a flood mitigation committee, but the business owners have yet to hear any ideas on how to mitigate.