NEOSHO, Mo. — Technically, none of the drive-thru lanes at the U.S. Bank location in Neosho were open, but one of them was definitely closed to traffic Friday.
Taking advantage of the drive-thru's large overhead ceiling, tellers worked at a table in the shade Friday using tablet computers. Another tent was set up outside the building at 1094 S. Neosho Blvd. Though the building itself was closed, tellers were still working to help customers access their accounts through the ATM or via a mobile app.
The building closed last month after flooding on May 20 led to a sewer backup that damaged the interior of the bank. Workers are installing new carpet and replacing wallboard in order to fix damage caused by standing water inside.
The work is indicative of what's being done in many homes and some buildings across the region.
"We haven't received a ton of commercial losses, but we're absolutely up to our neck in residential projects because of flooding and the tornado," Chris Mazzocco, marketing manager for Servpro of Carthage/Joplin, said Friday. The company specializes in home and commercial cleanup after fires, storms and other disasters.
The tornado that struck Carl Junction hit mostly residential areas, leaving the business district untouched. That's fortunate for businesses, Mazzocco said, citing a FEMA statistic indicating about 50 percent of small businesses that close because of a disaster never reopen.
"That number may not be true for Joplin after its tornado," Mazzocco said, "but nationally, once you lose a business to a disaster, it's hard to get it back."
A particular threat for businesses and government buildings is the loss of records, he said, noting that agencies that are required to keep paper records usually do so in a basement.
Business owners are urged to prepare for flooding by keeping records elevated, keeping sprinkler systems maintained and becoming familiar with the locations of shut-off valves. Homeowners should inspect gutters, roof shingles, soffits and fascia regularly, he said.
Jeremy Goebel, district manager for U.S. Bank, said that more than half a foot of water was inside the Neosho branch — the building does not have a basement.
The bank originally directed customers to nearby locations in Joplin and Pineville; the branch is the only one in Neosho.
The bank's employees were placed at other branches around the area but they continued to see people driving up to the doors, and indicated they'd be willing to help stay in touch with customers, Goebel said. Working outside, the employees are helping customers with the ATM or showing them how to use the mobile app for transactions. In other instances, the tellers have directed customers to the closest branches to them.
"It started from employees talking to customers about the building, and evolved into that," Goebel said. "I was out there one day, and customers said they appreciate the details about what's going on. It's just our attempt to communicate better."
The Globe was unable to reach Neosho city officials about sewer backups within city limits on Friday. One Neosho resident spoke during Tuesday's Neosho City Council meeting about a sewer backing up into his house.
Cleaning flood damage usually involves three phases, Mazzocco said: Drain standing water from the area, dry it out, then begin renovation.
Goebel said the bank is hoping to have drive-thru lanes open sometime this week, so that the branch can resume many of its services. A more complete renovation will be done later this year.