The name of the business is Riverside Hardware & Paint, but in truth the Neuse River that flows through New Bern typically stays about two blocks away.

Randy Quidley bought the store 36 years ago, but the business has been there since 1952. He learned from old timers that the store flooded only once, during Hurricane Hazel in 1954. The store filled with 23 inches of water then.

Hurricane Florence topped that by five inches.

"It basically puts me out of business," he said. "I think we probably lost about 50 to 75 percent of the inventory."

Whether they sell paint and nails or shrimp and grits, businesses in eastern North Carolina are finding themselves in uncharted waters as they work to rebound from debilitating damage and a corresponding loss of income.

"It's going to take us a couple of years to recover because it is the whole area and not just us," said Sandy Schulz, who with her husband, Fred, owns Quilt Cottage in Swansboro.

Like Quidley, the Schulzes said Florence was the worst of the storms they've weathered in the 16 years at their current location on the bottom floor under Bake, Bottle & Brew. Their store took on 2.5 feet of water.

As they piled debris and damaged items on the roadside, Fred Schulz said they hope to reopen soon. But that doesn’t mean they and the other small businesses that line the waterfront haven’t taken a hit.

Many businesses have been closed a week or more, since evacuations were ordered in advance of the hurricane.

"It's going to cause us a cash flow problem, but when you are in business for yourself you have a plan for that," Sandy Schulz said.

The storm surge and hurricane-force winds thrashed the waterfront businesses from one end of Swansboro's downtown district to the other.

At least one, Icehouse Waterfront Restaurant, is out of commission for a while. But the management has said they will rebuild.

Heidi Vos, a longtime employee and manager of the restaurant’s food truck, said they have employees who have been affected personally and some stuck in other places after evacuating.

"We have them calling in and asking what can they do and we have some here," Vos said. "We have a good crew."

Swansboro Mayor John Davis, who owns the Dairy Queen in town, said the down time is a hit to employees across the area.

"A lot of people who work in the stores, who work in the businesses are not getting paid if they can't work," Davis said.

In New Bern, Quidley has told his one full-time employee, Brandon Davis, and his two part-timers at the hardware store that he will pay them as long as he can.

Despite that uncertainty, Davis said he is sticking by his boss.

"I know we can do it," Davis said. "No doubt we'll get back up and running."

Wade Dixon owns 29 McDonald's franchises in eastern North Carolina, including restaurants in the locally hard-hit communities of Kinston and Jacksonville. Several of his franchises were knocked out of business due to flooding and a loss of power. The McDonald's corporation donated $500,000 to Florence relief efforts and was assisting local owner-operators in getting back to work.

"As members of the communities we serve, we are experiencing first-hand the effects of Hurricane Florence alongside our employees, customers, and partners," Dixon said. "We are working to reopen restaurants as soon as possible in an effort to serve our communities and will continue to do what we can to aid in the ongoing relief efforts on the ground."

Along with the cleanup, businesses have a long list of calls to make and claims to put in. Quidley has called FEMA, who told him to also contact the Small Business Administration. He also has contacted the IRS and the North Carolina Division of Employment Security, which he hopes will help him meet his payroll through the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

Meanwhile, he said, "I've got payments I have to make, I've got bills I have to pay." His North Carolina sales tax was due Thursday, and he had no idea how to tally receipts that no longer exist.

"You try to stay strong, but you have your moments where you get down," Quidley said.

John-John Sloan, manager of Yana's restaurant along the Swansboro waterfront, could relate.

"We've already been closed four days and it hurts, but when you get beyond four days it really hurts the pocketbook,” Sloan said Tuesday.

He stopped his cleaning to guess a quick estimate and said an average week of business could mean $15,000 to $20,000 in revenue.

"That's big for a small business," he said.