Photo by Ed Gunts
Photo by Ed Gunts

In Baltimore’s Meadow Mill business community, many tenants spent Monday cleaning up and drying out after Saturday’s flood, with some planning to reopen right away but at least one tenant saying it may be weeks before his business can reopen.

The former cotton mill at 3600 Clipper Mill Road contains dozens of businesses and was in the path of the flood waters that followed heavy rains Saturday evening. Businesses that received the heaviest damage were at ground level on the east side of the property, closest to the Jones Falls — including Nepenthe Homebrew, Mouth Party Caramels, and Stone Mill Bakery.

Meadow Mill Athletic Club, at the south end of the complex, was open for business as usual on Monday, and members came and went throughout the day.

Meadow Mill Athletic Club

La Cuchara restaurant was open as well on Monday and showed no signs of damage, but a representative said business was off because people were prevented from coming to Meadow Mill on Sunday as crews worked to tow away flood-damaged cars and otherwise clean up the property.

One of the hardest-hit tenants was Nepenthe Homebrew, a business that sells specialty beer-making and wine-making tools and ingredients.  Husband and wife owners Brian Arnold and Jill Antos said the water inside their space rose 55 inches, damaging all of their inventory and equipment.  “Pretty much everything went in the drink,” Arnold said.

Arnold said he and his wife are working to reopen as soon as possible and have set up a gofundme site to raise $15,000. As of today, they have raised more than $10,000.

Arnold said it took them six and a half weeks to reopen after a flood in 2014. “We’d like to do better than last time,” he said. “We’d like to be open by Labor Day if we can because that’s kind of the start of our season.”

Next to Nepenthe Homebrew, Mouth Party Caramels was temporarily shut down and employees were filling dumpsters with debris and cleaning the inside of their space. Owner B. G. Purcell said all 11 employees came to work Monday to help in the clean-up effort.

Purcell declined to predict when the nearly 10-year-old business might reopen. She said her top priorities are taking care of her employees and taking care of her customers. She said she had more than one wedding on her schedule this week and she is working to be ready for them.

Mouth Party Cleans Up
Supporters worked to clean up the debris at Meadow Mill yesterday.

Purcell noted that her business, like Nepenthe Homebrew, had to shut down following a 2014 flood and recovered. This time, “we have lost everything,” she said. “All of our product. All of our materials. All of our equipment. As a manufacturer, there’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle… The last time this happened, it took five to six weeks for the space to be reconstructed and three months for the space to be operational.“

Mouth Party posted this picture of the damage to its Facebook page yesterday.
Mouth Party posted this picture of the damage to its Facebook page yesterday.

Purcell added that she is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. “We have people who are our cheerleaders,” she said. “I will do whatever I have to do to make sure we get up and running. We’ll explore all options. We want to make sure Mouth Party continues to grow.”

After receiving heavy water damage, Stone Mill Bakery was preparing to get back in business on Monday afternoon, according to owner Alfred Himmelrich.

Stone Mill Bakery clean up

Himmelrich said he had to throw out a lot of bread that was damaged in the flood, but employees worked starting Sunday to power wash the interior and equipment so they could bake more. Himmelrich said all 24 employees came in on Sunday to start the cleanup, and many brought  family members who also helped out.  As a result, he said, he expected the bakery to resume full operations by Tuesday.

“I’m in very good shape,”Himmelrich said Monday. “We had a crew of people here right away. I have a wonderful company. For the most part, the bakery is ready to go…I’ll be delivering bread to people tomorrow.”

Getting back to normal at Stone Mill Bakery.
Getting back to business as usual at Stone Mill Bakery.

At the Meadow Mill Athletic Club, owner Nancy Cushman said some water got inside the building but she was able to clean it up and has been using fans and de-humidifiers to dry out the interior.  She said some physical changes were made to the interior after earlier storms, and she believes that helped prevent more water from getting inside this time.

“We’re fine. We’re totally operational,” Cushman said. “We took in some water, but it wasn’t even a half inch …We were very fortunate.”

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.