Sharon Kerr does not remember the faces of all the people who crowded around her with words of support and encouragement when an errant SUV crashed through her storefront on Jobs Lane last week—but she wants to thank each of them.
On Tuesday evening, Ms. Kerr said it was the support of the local community—store owners, police and paramedics especially—that is helping her through the stressful time of trying to rebuild her store, Norah’s. The Jobs Lane shop sustained major damage on Wednesday, May 22, when a Hampton Bays man driving a 2008 Jeep Wrangler crashed into the building.
This week, the village resident said she is working with her insurance company to document the ordeal and hopes to have the year-round store back up and running as soon as possible to take advantage of the busy summer season, the life blood for so many retailers.
“The hardest part now is trying to replace the goods,” Ms. Kerr, who had closed the store at 5 p.m. that day, less than a half hour before the crash, said in a phone interview. “I am at a loss. I keep on trying to remember that day, and so much of it is in a fog because I was in shock—the best thing is that none of us were in here and nobody got hurt.”
According to Southampton Village Police Detective Sergeant Herman Lamison last week, the accident happened at 5:25 p.m. on Wednesday when James O’Hagan, 39, became distracted while talking on his cell phone and veered his Jeep off the road, striking a garbage can, traffic signs and several flower pots before crossing the sidewalk and hitting the building. Mr. O’Hagan was issued a traffic ticket for talking on his cell phone while driving.
By the following day, the Southampton Village building inspector had already reviewed the accident scene and said that with the necessary repairs, the building would be safe to reopen. It is unclear how much it will cost Ms. Kerr to reopen the store, which needs structural repairs and an all-new inventory.
Mr. Kerr said this week she has had workers in the store since Thursday working to replace the door and front window to the store, which both shattered on impact, cascading glass and wood throughout the space and ruining all of the summer merchandise. She noted that earlier that day her employees—most of whom have just returned from college—had finished the summer display in preparation for the big Memorial Day weekend.
Employees have also been working to sort through all of the clothes in the store to create an inventory for insurance. Ms. Kerr, who has owned the business for 18 years—the last five of which have been at that location—said this week she is not sure when she will be able to reopen, saying that distributors have already moved on to peddling their fall lines, and getting a second summer inventory may be difficult and expensive.
Even though Ms. Kerr said she still has a rough few weeks ahead of her, she is thankful for all the support she has seen from the community, saying that when she initially saw the damage, she fell to the floor and started crying—but neighbors were there instantly to help her.
“I want to thank the police and EMTs and neighboring stores for all of their support,” she said. “I heard the cops were there within seconds, and everyone was there for me. I can’t even remember the names of everyone or their faces, but I know they were there for me.”