WATERVILLE — Two downtown businesses are back in full swing after cleaning up from damage caused when a severe thunderstorm tore through the city more than a week ago, bringing high wind, hail, torrential rain and spot flooding.

A laptop computer at The Framemakers at 46 Main St. exploded during the May 28 storm, causing a fire, and a broken pipe caused water damage to the business.

Two doors down at The Children’s Book Cellar at 52 Main St., water came tumbling through the ceiling, damaging about $1,000 worth of books and soaking a large woolen rug.

The storm knocked down trees and power throughout the area that afternoon. Damage in Waterville wasn’t heavy, but the building was hit hard.

“It was a freak storm,” said Robert Sezak, who owns the building that houses the two businesses as well as La Belle Bridal Boutique. “The storm drains couldn’t take the water from the roof. It backed up through toilets. There was also a pipe that had some casting flaws in it and over the years cracked and water sprayed out of that, too.”

La Belle owner Linsey Gervais was not available for comment Monday, but Sezak said a little water seeped into lamps on the shop ceiling and he took the lenses down and cleaned and dried them. Other than that, there was no damage to the shop.


Amy Cyrway and her husband, Brian Vigue, who own The Framemakers, have a protocol they follow when it rains hard. When the storm ripped through downtown May 28, knocking out power, they followed the drill.

They and their employees wrapped up all artwork in plastic and put it at the center of the shop.

Cyrway said Monday that the pipe upstairs started leaking water and began to pool in the light fixtures at La Belle Bridal Boutique, sandwiched between The Framemakers and the Children’s Book Cellar. They called the Fire Department. Firefighters arrived and checked everything out.

A little while later, Cyrway said, a freak thing happened in the loft area of the shop, where the office is.

“The power came back on and even though my laptop was off and we had covered it, water had pooled underneath it and the lithium ion battery exploded,” she said. “It was just this ‘bang’ and flames. I tossed the laptop onto the table below, grabbed a fire extinguisher, yelled ‘Call the Fire Department,’ and within two minutes the Fire Department came.

“It was an exciting 15 minutes because while they (firefighters) were carrying the laptop — they had it contained — there was still some fight in that battery so it started exploding and fire got on the carpet, too.”


At The Children’s Book Cellar Monday, owner Ellen Richmond said she was in New York City at a trade show when she received an email from Sezak telling her about the storm.

Water damaged not only Richmond’s books, but also paperwork in her desk area. Insurance will cover the $1,000 or so in lost books and $200 for the rug cleaning, but she will still have to pay a $500 deductible, she said.

“It was such a dreadful winter, that $500 out-of-pocket is a killer, but it could have been so much worse,” Richmond said.

The Framemakers lost not only the laptop, but also some tools, a larger laptop and some computer programs — and a desk was scorched.

Cyrway said it is a good thing she and her husband keep important documents in the computer cloud, because they lost some business data when the computer was damaged.

“I lost some of my desk decorations, including some transformers,” she said. “Our insurance is covering the property, and the building insurance is covering the ceiling and floor damage. I’m counting my blessings right now. We were very fortunate. It could have been a heck of a lot worse.”


Both Cyrway and Richmond said Sezak has been a terrific landlord.

Advance 1 Cleaning Services, of Water Street, cleaned up while the shop was closed for three days.

Sezak said the roof of the building had just been replaced, so there was no leaking there. He had been having other work done on the building also, he said.

He said the larger section of the building, housing The Framemakers and La Belle Bridal, was built in 1888, and the section that houses the Children’s Book Cellar was completed in 1892.

Berry’s Stationers, also on Main Street, does framing, and owner Michael Giroux offered space in the shop for Cyrway and Vigue’s staff to do framing work.

“That’s the thing about downtown,” Cyrway said. “We’re a community, and we understand that. That’s what I love about being downtown. It’s very much a family. You can’t look at other businesses as competitive. You have to look at it as we’re all in this together.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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