Diner reopens after ‘fantastic’ assistance
PENN YAN—After sustaining serious flood damage during the first wave of flash floods Wednesday, May 14, the Penn Yan Diner officially reopened Sunday, May 25. Located along East Elm Street in Penn Yan, the diner was one of many businesses downtown who were hit hard during the flooding. With the help of volunteers, the owners were able to get the building back in shape to reopen with a limited menu in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” Penn Yan Diner owner Carrie Ahearn said. “The Mennonite disaster service has supplied a lot of man hours. The college, they excused people from classes for their students.”
Ahearn said the night of the flooding, she received a call from a security system at 1:55 a.m. to alert them of the situation. She said she was at the diner during the time of the flooding, taking a photo of the water that had risen up into the building. Ahearn said the “guesstimate” for total damage they sustained during the flooding is $90,000, adding they did not have any flood insurance.
“When we first got into the building, we had five and a half inches of mud after the nine feet of water, so it was unsafe to be walking through the building,” Ahearn said. “They [the volunteers] were standing in a line and doing the bucket brigade just to get the garbage out of the basement. Being a restaurant, we worry about microbacterial growth, so we had to get all of the sheet rock off, get all of the food perishables out… a lot of it is a volunteer effort.”
Ahearn said while the downstairs portion of her building saw the most damage, the street-level floor also saw water rushing in, requiring both levels to be repaired before reopening.
“For the upstairs, the flood water did get under the street-level door, so we did have to replace all of the flooring that was down,” Ahearn said. “That is our big holdup as far as opening. Then downstairs, we had to gut everything. That was our boiler, our walk-in, our freezer, everything.”
Ahearn said the restaurant did not suffer damage during the second day of flooding Friday, May 16. She said the work progressed rather quickly in comparison with other damaged businesses partly due to the small size of the building. Ahearn said while the damage was extensive, she wants the restaurant open to give the community a sense of normalcy following the disaster.
“Every day we have been thankful for any volunteers, any guests that come our way, but every day has been another expense discovered,” Ahearn said. “It’s heart-wrenching. This is our sole income for our household. We miss the people and we know people need hope of seeing something open so that they can continue having the energy to push on and find their new normal.”