In March 2010, a massive flood pounded the Darlington Fabrics manufacturing facility on the banks of the Pawcatuck River in Westerly. The facility is owned by The Moore Co., a family-run business is in its fourth generation. George C. Moore started his elastics company in 1909 in Worcester, Mass. The company has been guided by Moores ever since.
But it was saved two years ago – by another company, from another industry – in its time of need.
“The whole thing was a surreal experience. To see 4 feet of water running through the river side of the building was just unbelievable,” said The Moore Co. CEO Dana Barlow. “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.”
Conditions for a natural catastrophe were ripe leading up to the flood. There was a lot of snow melting all over the state. The March rains came on strong. Although the company’s flood-prevention group monitors the river daily, the flood came on fast.
“As the river was rising we were sandbagging, but quickly we realized we were not going to get ahead of it, so we started evacuating,” Barlow said. “We tried to move some product out of the building, but it was too fast. Every family in this town has had a family member work here, and there is a lot of history and culture that we are trying to preserve. As the floods hit, we were extremely worried about whether the facility could rebound and start making fabric again.”
At the Darlington Fabrics facility, the company brings in greige goods – big, knitted rolls of fabric – to prepare and dye them. Once complete the rolls are sent to another facility across town for finishing and shipping. This day-to-day operation seemed impossible in the wake of Rhode Island’s historic flooding. As with other businesses and homeowners across the state, The Moore Company was about to realize the importance of having a good insurance company.