Thursday, April 25, 2013

Water Street Flooding

When you eat sleep breath your restaurant, as most of us restaurateurs do, nothing could be worse than watching a river slowly devour your establishment as it did to several of our area's restaurants last week. I not only have sympathy for them......I have empathy. In my years at the Red Door Inn I went through four major floods including the pre-2008 flood record in 1982. The 1982 flood was labeled the flood of the century. We were very lucky that flood water got to the middle of the road in front of the Red Door and stopped there, teasingly for several days before receding. I know what a mess it can be and how depressing it can be.  

In my days it was never thought that the water could actually get so high as to threaten the first floor at the Red Door, but this time it came very close. The Red Door is the highest spot on Water street. In a restaurant the basement is usually full with mechanicals that are difficult if not impossible to move every time the water level threatens. If it gets in your first floor it is almost like rebuilding the physical part from the ground up. What do you do with all of your employees, recipes, customers and procedures that you tirelessly built up over the years. It has to be worse than starting from scratch. A home is a big part of a person's life. A business is a big part of many person's lives.     

Back in the late 70s and early 80s we did not have the internet to watch river levels. Nor did we have accurate predictions as to how high the river would rise. It was all guess work. We got caught several times before we were able to get things out of the basement. Also back in those days the Red Door had a lounge in the basement. Some of you might remember it, "The Gatsby Lounge". The lounge was carpeted, not just
on the floor, but on the walls and the ceiling also. You want to see a mess.... check that out after a flood.

Saturday morning I had to see it at the record. I had to go under the cover of early dawn. Because of my previous experience I did not want anyone to think of me as a gawker. I had to see it. I took some of these pictures and sent them to my father. He could not have been more relieved he did not have to deal with this anymore.

In some ways it was wonderful living and working on the river. Most things in life have equal levels of good and bad that accompany them. I sincerely wish all of the Water street restaurants a safe and speedy recovery!

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