Mariner’s Harbor got hit pretty hard by Sandy, but is coming through to help two nearby houses of worship which also got hit. The Rondout restaurant is holding a fundraiser for the flood-devastated Riverview Baptist and New Central churches on Monday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.
Episcopal spiritualist Martin L. Smith wrote that while it’s difficult to understand and see God in a tragedy, God’s grace can be recognized in the response. In the early morning hours of Oct. 30, Mark and Sal Guido, owners of Mariner’s Harbor, found themselves standing outside of their popular eatery at 4 a.m. in total disbelief of the sight of seven commercial refrigerators flipped over and thousands of dollars of food and inventory floating in nearly 30 inches of water. Water which violently poured through the foundation and filled their 3,000-square-foot basement, easily overpowering five sump pumps.
All told, $40,000 worth of refrigerating and freezing systems, coolers, compressors, a hot water heater, computers and $10,000 worth of food and product were lost to the flood. It was even more devastating than the mud left from Irene only 14 months earlier, said Sal Guido. Firefighters cautioned the cousins against entering the restaurant, warning of danger from the electrified appliances floating in the water. Even the fire department’s two additional pumps were not enough to bail out the basement. “I was in shock,” said Sal, “Last year, the creek never even reached the building. Even the firefighters and [people who have been here their whole lives] have never seen it get this high before. … Since we didn’t get that much rain we didn’t think that we were going to get water like this … The creek had hit the front of the deck.”
Sal called Fini Boat Yard, which came in at 5 a.m. that day with special pumps that threw-out 400 gallons of water per minute. It still took hours and hours of pumping before the basement could even be walked through. The cousins cleaned around the clock for several days, joined by over 20 friends and community members. They said that even some customers who came expecting to eat actually rolled-up their sleeves and helped clean out the mess. One-hundred 160 insurance photos and a whole lot of elbow grease later, the restaurant opened for lunch by Thursday, Nov. 1, ever thankful to the friends, employees and community members who helped with the clean-up.
Their Port-of-Call restaurant in Catskill, favorably albeit precariously situated right on the river, suffered an even worse fate. Since there is no basement, the swollen tide filled the restaurant so swiftly that it even knocked over a 3,000-pound filled ice machine and carried it down the hallway. Mark said the computer systems they put on top of their desks were knocked off and carried away in the flooding river waters.
According to Mark, after the “100-year storm, Irene”, the cousins dumped nearly a million dollars of their own money into improvements to the restaurant with hopes to make it a year-round spot. They’ve been met with the bitter news that this “1,000-year event,”Sandy, will cost them $500,000 in repairs. For now, the doors are closed and the cousins are hopeful for an April reopening. Again.
“It was upsetting,” said Mark. “It looked like a bomb went off. Water is worse than fire. Unlike Mariner’s, we couldn’t even get in the restaurant and wait for the water to recede for the next day. It’s just business, we have insurance we have our house and no one was hurt. The whole town of Catskill was devastated, and I don’t think they could rebound from that again.” Mark said Port-of-Call employs more than 60 in the summer months, and was planning to employ about 30 for the winter. The Guido family has been employing some of the Catskill employees at Mariner’s and Little Italy so people can hang onto their jobs. They have generously donated all of the food for the church’s fundraising event, citing unity in tragedy.
Like the Guidos, Riverview Baptist’s minister, the Rev. Doris “Hubbie” Edwards, said she was not expecting the waters either. Sewage filled the church four feet high, ruining 26 12-foot-long wooden pews, a nearly new double-oven six-burner commercial stove, a cherry wood desk and conference table, chairs, a copying machine, 143 hymnals, more than 30 Bibles, kitchen countertops, bathrooms, a computer, a TV, window treatments and on and on.
Edwards was recently installed at Riverview and finds herself within six weeks of taking the reins faced with tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Riverview has approximately 50-75 active congregants for whom they are continuing to offer Sunday services, Sunday school and Fellowship at Temple Emanuel on Albany Avenue from 9:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. until the second week of December, at which point she hopes to at least have chairs for her congregants.
Recovering from disaster is not a new drill for Riverview Baptist, which rebuilt their church after a large fire in the 1990s and then required remediation after Irene.