• Last modified 556 days ago (July 11, 2019)


Amid $1 million damage, beloved cafe won't reopen

Staff writers

Last week’s flooding hit Durham and its Main St. businesses hard. A beloved local eatery will likely close.

Main St. Café owners Linda and Wendell Wedel said the decision to shut the doors is tough.

“It’s hard on us because we loved it and enjoyed the people,” Wendell said. “It was just something that wasn’t in our control.”

Wedel said he got the bad news of the near-record water in Durham from his son.

“When my son called and said we had over 7, inches I knew we were in trouble,” he said.

Nearly 32 inches of water swamped the café at the height of the flooding. As fans blasted the damp floors and torn up siding, Wedel shared a photo, shot from a boat traveling down Douglas St., of a van with water nearly over its windows.

Marion County Health Department was offered tetanus shots to residents who were exposed to floodwater.

Wedel said insurance from Mennonite Aid Insurance services will cover many of his expenses, but not the cost of rebuilding the gutted structure, which would be significant.

Wedel said he already spent money putting in new range hoods, made other changes to comply with fire codes, and installed new LED lighting.

He said he would be grateful if a young person wanted to buy the business or rent the building, but reopening a restaurant would not make sense for him.

“At my age and the cost to restore it, it’s just not looking feasible,” he said.

One possibility mentioned to Wedel was pursuing Federal Emergency Management and Administration money for repairs, but he is not sure how much assistance will be available.

“If they help me out with any losses incurred, that’s fine,” he said. “If not, it is what it is.”

Wedel said he is considering making sausage in his retirement after he builds a garage on his property if he can salvage any equipment.

Mike Sorenson, Durham’s mayor, said estimates damage in the city at $1 million, but cautioned that many residents were still awaiting their insurance adjustors.

He said nearly 16 homes had flooding damage, as well as Hein Auto Repair, G&R Implements and the café.

The town’s post office was shut, and a sign on the door informed residents they could pick up mail in Herington.

Sorenson said he appreciated the help lent by hundreds from Durham’s Morning Star Mennonite Church, local fire departments, and area volunteers.

Judy Flaming isn’t a Durham resident, but was willing to lend a hand during Friday’s cleanup.

Flaming, who lives in Lehigh, said Durham’s First Baptist Church, which she attends, suffered damage.

“We got quite a bit of water in the basement, but it was nothing like this,” she said. “Nothing was destroyed and all the electrical stuff was OK. It’s just a pain to clean up.”

Firefighters from Peabody, Lincolnville, and Lost Springs were called for assistance with logistical work.

Last modified July 11, 2019