Afton businesses stay above waterThe possibility of flooding may be a worrisome thought for some people. Whether it’s getting water in your basement or washing away property, floods have the potential to devastate.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The possibility of flooding may be a worrisome thought for some people. Whether it’s getting water in your basement or washing away property, floods have the potential to devastate.
“It’s Mother Nature working in harsh ways,” said Dale Jarvis, owner of Current, a new restaurant in Afton.
However, the threat of possibly rising St. Croix River floodwaters hasn’t kept the businesses of downtown Afton from persevering.
Even though flood predictions have lessened of late, the threat of rising waters is always something that is on the mind of Afton’s business owners, but it doesn’t dampen their spirit.
The determination to swim – rather than sink – was on display at Current, which recently opened in the old Catfish Saloon space amid rising floodwaters.
Jarvis said even though opening a new restaurant amidst flood warnings is a big risk, he wasn’t going to let Mother Nature make his decisions for him.
“We didn’t want to make decisions based on possibilities,” he said. “We did it on our time table.
“As Minnesotans, we’ve learned to continue living our lives throughout adversities.”
Jarvis’ opinions on the flood are similar to those of other businesses owners in downtown Afton.
Bracing against the water
Despite the fact that there is potential for County Road 21, which runs downtown Afton, to be shut down due to flooding, business owners have not begun to worry.
“We’ve been through floods like this before,” Squire House Gardens owner Martin Stern said. “We are ready to do what we need to do.”
Stern said Squire House Gardens is preparing for the flood by clearing out the basement.
Over at Afton Leather, flood preparations are similar to Sterns’ — cleaning out the basement.
“We’re kind of all set for it,” owner Jim Kaempfer said.
At the Afton House Inn, the building is built to continue operating during a flood, Jarvis said.
The building is pitched so water flows into a flood chamber.
Jarvis said he is proud to be a part of Afton’s persevering downtown business community.
“It’s the story of the American spirit persevering despite the threat of Mother Nature,” he said.
The possibility of water damage isn’t the only threat facing Afton’s downtown business. What happens if tourists and customers opt not to come downtown because of flood concerns?
“We’ve lived through other floods,” said Sail Away Café owner Marj Weir. “You have a couple bad weeks, but you more than make up for it with good summers.”
Both Weir and Kaempfer believe the possible flood will potentially bring more people down to Afton.
“People are going to want to see the flood,” Weir said. “People are curious.” In fact, Kaempfer said he plans to market the flood by inviting people to sit on Afton Leather’s porch and watch the waters rise, and maybe even enjoy a barbeque.
Even if floodwaters do reach dangerous levels, Jarvis said Afton would remain standing.
“One way or another, there’s enough people around here who will protect this town,” he said. “We’ve been here before, we’ve been through the battle, and we’ve won the battle.
“No flood is going to stop that, if it delays us, we’ll still be around come May or June.”