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Balance Chiropractic and Wellness, a "hands-on kind of office," served its clients despite not having power.
SAM OWENS | The Roanoke Times
Townside Festival Shopping Center was still missing power Friday after a storm rolled through Roanoke on Thursday afternoon. The parking lot was mostly empty as shops and restaurants, such as Montanos, had to close.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Residents who have lost power take advantage of Mill Mountain Coffee's wifi connection to use the internet and get a hot cup of coffee at the Starkey Road location.
Friday, June 14, 2013
The dormant traffic light at the entrance of Townside Festival Shopping Center was the first sign that the businesses, like the suddenly disorganized drivers, were still scrambling to make due without electricity.
When the gusts kicked in and the lights cut out Thursday afternoon, business owners operating out of Townside, on Franklin Road near Tanglewood Mall, began thinking about last year, about the derecho. After that storm, the Roanoke shopping center was without power for six days.
This time, chiropractor Jennifer Walker — one of the specialists at Balance Chiropractic and Wellness — and her staff decided they wouldn’t let the storm render them powerless. After closing early Thursday because of the outage, the staff loaded up on camping lanterns and head lamps and decided they would be open for their clients on Friday, with or without lights.
They encouraged clients to attend their scheduled appointments. The main challenge, Walker said, was figuring out who those clients were without their computerized schedules.
On a chalkboard in the hallway connecting the sun-splashed lobby with the darkened treatment rooms, the staff wrote “Balance Chiropractic and Wellness, Extreme Edition.”
“Everyone is closed,” Walker said after working with one of the day’s last clients. “We have too many people to help to close right now.”
Shortly before noon Friday, while the neon signs on Maggie Moo’s and Capt Party were still as dull as the traffic lights, Balance’s doors were propped open with water cooler replacement jugs. The staff had bent glow sticks into colorful headbands and bracelets, and most all of the customers had made it to their appointments.
Walker said the office’s specialities, chiropractic adjustments and massages, don’t require electric equipment anyway.
“Both of them depend on our hands,” she said. “So technically we don’t need any electricity for this.”
Melinda Malone, a Glenvar resident who was without power at her home, had no intention of missing her treatment.
“I knew they didn’t have power,” she said. “But it’s a hands-on kind of office.”
For her appointment, Malone was put in room four, in the back corner of the building where very little light from the windows could reach. Stretched out on a massage table facedown, her back was kneaded by Marjorie Joyce, a massage therapist wearing a head lamp — like a coal miner minus the helmet.
Malone left the office refreshed, asking the staffers to be sure to call her and set up her next appointment once their scheduling programs were powered up again.
“I was actually excited to come and do it in the dark,” Malone said.
But the improvisational spirit that kept the doors open at Balance was impossible to execute at Montano’s International Gourmet, a dining mainstay on the other end of Townside.
Owner Marty Montano said the latest outage couldn’t have fallen at a more costly juncture, on a weekend.
“We were concerned,” he said. “The power clicked on and off and we thought, ‘Here we go.’ ”
After the storm blew through, Montano noticed trees downed on power lines nearby and immediately began to wonder how much time, and inventory, the restaurant would lose over this storm. In the aftermath of the derecho, he estimated the cost to be between $12,000 and $14,000 in food loss and damaged equipment.
“We’ve survived. We’ve had some food losses, which is to be expected,” he said Friday.
He said he knew power crews were working to repair the damaged lines and get his restaurant back up and running, but he was disappointed that the outages continue to affect businesses along one of the area’s major arteries.
Even with the experience of last year, there is little the restaurant can do to ward off an outage’s effects. Friday afternoon, Montano and some staffers used a generator on the back of a pickup truck to vacuum the front of the restaurant so they could be ready when the flow of electricity resumed.
“As soon as the power comes back on,” Montano said, “we’ll be available and ready for business within a few hours.”
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us