4.20.2009

The Great Spring Flood of '09, Part I

ATTENTION: THE CAFE WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

"Man was created by water to carry it uphill"
-Tom Robbins

a cheesy "peace offering,"
a gift of fresh baked cheese bread delivered by our neighbors, who were well aware of the kind of day we were having

What began as a routine outing to acquire ingredients to make ourselves breakfast on our day off, was detoured abruptly upon my arrival at the front door of the cafe. At first glance I noticed water flowing out of the premises and onto the street, and as I opened the door to a completely flooded cafe a sense of panic rushed over me. The sound of flowing water summoned my attention to the cafe bathroom, and in full disregard of our alarm I splashed my way through the giant puddle that was the dining room, and toward the back of the restaurant.

A burst copper supply line spewed water throughout the bathroom. The culprit! Within seconds of trying to reconnect the line I was completely drenched, and it was fully apparent that this accident would be no easy fix.

In my panicked state I had forgotten to turn off the alarm, causing it to go off. The trip to the keypad allowed me my first chance to survey the extent of the damages. By this point water had reached every corner of the of the restaurant, basement included. Dripping from head to toe, and not quite sure what my next course of action should be, I made my way back to the bathroom to confront the source of the debacle. The copper line that had become dislodged from the sink was flexible enough to redirect into a nearby utility sink, buying me precious time to search for a nearby shut-off valve. Of course, however, there was no shut-off in sight. Only slightly less panicked, I knocked on my landlord's door in search of some help. Together we were able to shut off the main waterline from the street. I took a well deserved deep breath.

Cue the Cops.


By the time the police showed up in response to the alarm I had already made a few phone calls and determined that this was not the type of flood that could simply be mopped and dried by hand. Wet/dry vac? Maybe if I had two or three. No, this was a job for professionals. Upon the recommendation of more than a few individuals I was able to schedule a midday appointment with the nice folks at Servpro.


Consider yourself lucky if like me, you had never until today heard of this company. If however you should find yourself in a situation similar to the one I am describing now, look no further. Within two hours of arriving at the cafe the Servpro techs had removed the majority of the visible water from the floor. Apparently, that's the easy part. Currently, and for perhaps the next five to seven days, we enter phase two of the process: de-humidification.


In order to ensure that the cafe is completely dried out, and to inhibit any potential mold growth, the nice folks at Servpro have advised that we allow at least five to seven days for commercial fans and dehumidifiers to finish the job. At that point we will be able to place furniture, begin repairing the wall base and paneling that was removed during cleanup, and fill and patch the holes that were drilled into our walls for proper aeration. Not exactly the kind of early morning grocery trip I had envisioned, but I do feel extremely lucky to have discovered the accident when I did.

Five to seven days? It seems hard to believe; the news coming after our busiest weeks at the cafe ever. Needless to say lately we had been feeling like we were a wave just about to crest, and it's frustrating encountering a setback like this. Heartbreaking really, like a slap across the face, the challenges we face in this business at times making us feel as though its nearly impossible to get ahead. What are we supposed to tell our employees and our vendors who depend on our income this week to help support their livelihoods? How do we explain this freak accident to our community and friends who frequent our establishment and literally put food on our table? How do we remove that sour taste left in mouth's of newcomers who venture out to a visit only to be met by locked doors? How do we sort this mess out with our landlord and insurance companies? How does Little Red Bike Cafe essentially survive The Great Spring Flood?

Well, what are we to do when something like this happens other than to dust ourselves off and roll with it. We must continue to move forward, which at this point means getting the cafe open again as soon as we can. Unfortunately water will be water, and we can do nothing more than let nature (six fans and nine commercial dehumidifiers) take its course.

We'll let you know as soon as we do, when the cafe will reopen. Until then, trust that we'll be gorging ourselves on leftover Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream and fresh baked cheese loaves.

18 comments:

kati said...

oh, no! nightmare! but i know from experience that those fans and de-humidifiers really do work. and my husband works for george morlan plumbing supply. let me know if you need a deal on parts. katidimoffatgmaildotcom

cygnus said...

Oh, man. Water damage is a nightmare! Good luck with the recovery!

Kendal said...

Aw jeez. You guys are experiencing an adventure in cafe-rearing the likes of which may never be seen again. I hope that even during the tough awful floody times, you manage to enjoy every moment. LRBC is your baby, and this could be the terrible two's? This will be good fodder for reminiscing over a glass of wine on the sun porch someday. Until then, driest of wishes.

About this Tim Roth guy... said...

Shit balls! You should come hang with me at Two Tarts...I'll feed you cookies and lots of inappropriate jokes about your respective parents and other cherished ones.

Chris Forrette said...

Crikey! I was wondering what happened -- I tried to get coffee from you today :) I can only imagine your frustration but shit happens and (most) people understand that. As a loyal customer/fan, I'm confident you guys, your vendors, employees, etc. are going to be just fine. If I were you, I would put a sign up so visitors know what's up (there might have even been one, I'm not too observant :) ) If I hadn't read this blog I probably would have walked over there every day this week, heh. Anyway, I wish you guys the best and I hope you find a way to enjoy your involuntary time off. See you soon!

Ariel said...

I'm so sorry. Suck suck suck.

Perhaps now would be a good time for that beach vacation?

Mary Beth said...

Agree with you about Serve-Pro. Angels.
We had the same thing happen to our summer cottage in January. A copper pipe in the shower burst, spewing 97,000 gallons of water. The electricity went out and the house then froze. The water company noticed the numbers and called us.
Serve-Pro to the rescue.
And YES, there is a BETTER life after floods and insurance adjusters....Good Luck.

Amy said...

Don't worry! These things only make you stronger - and make your customers (new and old) want you more. Give a shout if you need more able-bodied helpers. The fig-crusher is very good at manual labor.

Anonymous said...

Omigosh! Terrible, terrible luck!

Be assured, though, that your Loyal Fans will wait with you, and return in force upon your re-opening.

Take a few days off, put aside worries about the LRBC if you can and we'll be back as soon as you are.

josh? said...

Yikes. Glad you caught it when you did. Will definitely return once things are back up and running. Let me know if I can be of any help, will happily volunteer some time to help get things running again.

Molly said...

Let me know if you need any help!

Kristin said...

So true about the customers - we'll be banging down the door to try all the new specials you'll have dreamed up in the meantime!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about nature's unwillingness to comply...
Glad to hear that you are taking care of adjusting to her in a manner that should avert future discomfort from mold etc.
Can't wait to support you in re-opening. A party may be in order!

Natalie Burke said...

Oh Sad! I walked over for a zoobomb this morning and read the bad news. Good luck with the drying out and see you in a week! (or less... we all hope!)

neil said...

I'm in shock. Creation out of destruction perhaps? Love and lots of Light

Susan in Salem said...

We love Little Red Bike! So sorry about the flood. We are eager to come back. I'd like to purchase a big fat gift certificate in anticipation of your reopening. Do you take VISA?

Susan in Salem said...

p.s. May the insurance gods be kind and your supporters be generous!

Catherine said...

Heart is breaking... I heard about this and I'm just now reading all your coverage. Please PLEASE add us to the volunteer clean-up/fix list if there is one going. So much love to yous.