The troubles didn't end as the flood waters receded, though. Burgess now faces the daunting task of rebuilding her practice
— a business she has owned for only three years.
"I have a tremendous amount of debt just from the initial purchase," Burgess says, explaining her purchase debt was further
exacerbated by a full expansion and renovation about two years ago. "It was beautiful. Everyone said we were one of the prettiest
practices in Nashville, and of course, that's all washed away."
Now, all the renovations have been ripped out, since the entire hospital had to be taken back down to its studs — all 3,300
square feet of it.
"I'm just going to have to rebuild everything," Burgess says, estimating the construction costs alone at about $130,000.
Flood insurance is not offered in Nashville, she says. The only thing covered in her regular insurance will be some of the
In addition to the construction cost, Burgess will have to purchase all new equipment. Some of the medical equipment lost
in the flood can be fixed, but most will have to be replaced to the tune of at least $250,000 — and that's just so Burgess'
practice can get up and running again. A few items, like an older-model ultrasound Burgess used a lot, will be difficult to
find and replace.
After a few attempts, Burgess says she did gain approval for a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration, but
loan payouts can't be dispersed until Congress passes legislation for a national flood insurance program — and there's no
telling when that will happen.
With a closing date as close as a few weeks and as far off as a few months, Burgess is in limbo, working out of a nearby practice
and her home. It will take her five or six months to become operational again once she gets funding. She's trying to get a
contract to start work while she waits for the loan payout, but, for now, Burgess will have to stick to a makeshift hospital
at home, complete with a full lab in her laundry room.
Burgess, 46, is a native of Nashville and worked for 11 years as a certified medical technologist before turning to veterinary
medicine. She earned her DVM from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2003 and began working at
her current practice — then called Greene Animal Hospital — in April 2006. She bought the practice in July 2007 when the owner
retired, and renovated and expanded and changed the clinic name the following year.
Clients as a whole have been very supportive during the ordeal, she says, and the clinic set up a PayPal account on its website
because so many people wanted to donate to help her rebuild. About $20,000 has been raised so far.
For more information about the Animal Hospital of West Nashville or to donate, visit
http://www.westnashvilleanimal.com/. To view a photo gallery of the damage and rebuilding efforts, click here.