Flooded Businesses Vow To Reopen After Major Damage In Annapolis

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A 5.1-foot storm surge flooded downtown Annapolis businesses this week. An employee is pictured above on Wednesday leaving Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory, which expects repairs to take at least a month. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

ANNAPOLIS, MD - At a quick glance, Annapolis seems normal again. Visitors might never know the worst flood since Hurricane Isabel rocked the city earlier this week. Midshipmen are roaming, politicos are out to lunch and shoppers are back in stores.

Well, most stores.

The floodwaters may have receded, but the hardest-hit businesses are still closed for repairs.

A musty odor emanated from the soppy buildings this week. One passerby said it smelled like a fishbowl.

Clean-up trucks lined Dock Street, which was pummeled with flooding. Dehumidifiers filled several storefronts, sucking up the moisture running down the steamy windows.

This is how three Dock Street businesses and one Eastport museum are recovering from the flood with the help of local officials.

Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory

Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory expects to be closed for a month or two. 

The shop must replace everything from its freezers to its cabinets. About 32 inches of floodwater swamped the ice cream parlor, which lies about 150 feet from City Dock.

"It's the highest since Isabel," Owner Sveinn Storm told Patch. "Isabel we got 49 [inches]."

Tuesday and Wednesday's flood brought a 5.1-foot storm surge. That was the city's third-worst flood on record. Isabel's 7.16-foot surge in 2003 was the worst ever recorded.

Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory, shown here on Thursday, said it suffered around $60,000 to $80,000 in flood damage. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

This was the fourth time Storm Brothers has flooded since it opened in October 1976, but it has returned every time.

Storm expects repairs to cost $60,000 to $80,000 on the high end. 

"Everything's a total loss once your freezers are floating," Storm said. "We'll start from scratch."

The shop has pumps to combat flooding, but a power outage rendered them useless. Storm plans to invest in a generator for his pumps in case another flood wipes out his electricity.

Pip's Dock Street Dogs

A few doors down, Pip's Dock Street Dogs had about 2.5 feet of water inside. Owner Ryan Lamy said he placed sandbags outside his door, but they weren't much help.

"These buildings are so old. The water comes in through the walls. It comes up through the floor drains," Lamy said.

The flood destroyed half the eatery's equipment, causing $10,000 to $12,000 in damage. The fryer, sandwich stations and ice machine are all gone. The freezer survived, so most of the food was saved.

Lamy hopes to reopen in a few weeks. 

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Pip's has been open for 15 years, so this was the worst flood it has ever faced.

Lamy was at home watching the water rapidly rise through his security cameras.

"I could see how deep it was getting, and then boom. The power goes out and now [I'm] literally left in the dark," Lamy said. "We didn't know until the next day how bad it really was."

The eatery spent two days cleaning mud and silt from its floors. 

Pip's Dock Street Dogs Owner Ryan Lamy, pictured above, lost half his kitchen equipment in the flood. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Eagle Souvenir

Flooding also slammed the neighboring Eagle Souvenir. About 18 inches of water rushed into the store and destroyed several thousand dollars of merchandise.

"It happens all the time," Owner Young Chong said. "This time was the worst."

Chong usually brings some of her merchandise home to protect it from floods, but she didn't this time.

"I always prepare. This time I didn't," Chong said. "It's my fault."

Eagle Souvenir Owner Young Chong cleans up her store on Thursday. She lost thousands of dollars in merchandise. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Anything electronic was ruined. Wet clothes will be washed and donated, but souvenirs can be dried and cleaned.

Chong, who has owned Eagle Souvenir for about 19 years, vowed to reopen soon. She's just glad nobody was hurt.

"Most importantly, I'm alive," Chong said. "I'm a very positive person, so it's okay."

About 18 inches of water flooded Eagle Souvenir on Tuesday and Wednesday. The floors were still wet on Thursday. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park

Over in Eastport, 18 inches flooded into the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park. 

The building lies at the end of Second Street, directly against Back Creek. The water flowed over the bulkhead and about 50 yards up the roadway.

The museum said it suffered roughly $45,000 in damage, but the exhibits escaped unscathed. The building will be closed until at least Monday.

"We are cleaning up and drying out," museum President and CEO Alice Estrada said. "The building is designed to take floods, but it's still a chore to remediate them after they occur." 

Estrada said the museum was renovated after Hurricane Isabel.

The outlets are now 8 feet off the ground to prevent electrical damage. The exhibits are all designed to lift or wheel out of harm's way. 

Staff elevated Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park exhibits, like this one, to prepare for this week's flood. (Courtesy of Madeline Duffy)

The museum, which was established in 2000, plans to file an insurance claim. Still, the $25,000 deductible means the museum must fork over a sizable chunk of change before insurance kicks in.

The nonprofit asked residents to donate at amaritime.org/support/donate to cover the costs.

"The community has been wonderful," Estrada said, noting that city crews cleaned the museum's yard and repaired its dock on Wednesday. "In a moment's notice, we have throngs of people down here." 

The maritime museum is considering short- and long-term solutions to flooding.

Being so close to the water's edge, Estrada is concerned about sea level rise. The United Nations projects Annapolis sea levels to rise at least a foot by the 2050s and at least 2 feet by 2100.

"We do need to have some solution for that," Estrada said, adding that she would hate to move. "We love our spot. Obviously, we are a maritime museum and we want to be on the water." 

The museum is currently evaluating flood barrier options. It has not ruled out moving to a less flood-prone location in the future, but that remains a last resort.

Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park President and CEO Alice Estrada speaks at a Friday press conference announcing grant money for flood victims. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

How The City Is Helping

By Saturday, other Dock Street businesses still closed for repairs included:

  • Armadillo's Bar & Grill 
  • Bitty & Beau's Coffee
  • Moe's Southwest Grill
  • Every shop in Harbour Square

Cleaners hauled several trash bags from Armadillo's. Drywall was torn out at Bitty & Beau's. The exact damage at Moe's was not visible from outside. Mops, disinfectant and fans were seen inside Harbour Space. 

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley (D) empathizes with those establishments. This was the worst flood during his two terms in office.

"We are devastated that they've had to deal with this," Buckley said. "I've never really seen the water since being a mayor on the back side of the Market House."

Buckley outlined a three-pronged plan to support the flooding victims.

The mayor on Friday declared a state of emergency to unlock disaster relief grants. 

Each flooded business can get up to $50,000. This money will repair property damage, replace equipment and cover lost income.

The city also asked businesses to complete these financial impact and damage assessment surveys by Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Related: State Of Emergency Declared To Help Flooded Annapolis Businesses

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley (D) listens to speakers at a Friday press conference announcing a citywide state of emergency. Storm Brothers Ice Cream Factory is seen in the background. (Jacob Baumgart/Patch)

Buckley additionally wants to buy Dutch door dams for 10 to 20 frequently flooded businesses. The city still needs to find money for this project, however. The mayor learned about this technology during his November 2023 trip to the Netherlands to study sea level rise. 

Annapolis also plans to raise City Dock several feet and build a park on what's currently the waterfront parking lot. Planners expect this to shield downtown businesses from floodwaters.

"That's not just about sea level rise, but that's about the next catastrophic weather event. There is one coming. There's no doubt," Buckley said. 

Related: Worst Flood Since Hurricane Isabel Slams MD: See Photos

This $50 million to $60 million project should start this year and finish in 2026. 

The city still needs $10 million to $20 million for the park, Buckley estimated. He hopes to fill this gap with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Alderwoman Elly Tierney (D-Ward 1) said the park is still in the design development phase. She said the project must secure permits and pass the Planning Commission before construction. 

Sketches of the park design are posted here.

The utility and powerline work are scheduled to begin after the spring sailboat show. Work is set to resume this October after the fall boat show, kickstarting a year of intense construction at City Dock. 

Buckley expects the park to open in 2025. The flood mitigation efforts should wrap up a year later with flip gates and pump houses installed around downtown.

"There's going to be worse weather cycles, and we've got to be ready," the mayor said.

About 18 inches of water flooded the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park, shown here as the inundation filled Second Street this week. (Courtesy of Madeline Duffy)
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