WILLSBORO — Day by day, the Lake Champlain waters rose during the spring flooding of 2011, and all Joe Walsh and his sister, Patty Schwennker, proprietors of Indian Bay Marina, could do was watch and wait.
Thus, the marina and its popular eatery, located on Willsboro Point, were closed through the 2011 and 2012 seasons as finances had to be arranged and then a complete renovation undertaken.
Building badly damaged
Walsh described what they were up against.
“The building was essentially destroyed; everything, the hardwood floors and the walls. The mold had really taken over. There was over 12 inches of water covering the floor. All we could do was just sit back and wait until the water level went down.”
Actually, they had what Walsh termed a “double whammy,” as the previous year Tropical Storm Irene caused some damage, but not as much as the spring flooding. After the flood, all they could do to conduct business was open the dock on a limited basis.
“We have owned the marina for 30 seasons, and this was by far the worst. Lake Champlain does what she wants,” Walsh philosophized.
The marina was originally constructed by Morris King in the 1960s.
To minimize wave action and damage, Walsh had Sheehan Construction bring in about 50 giant sandbags, each with a cubic yard of sand, to place in the water around the dock area.
With no flood insurance, and unable to obtain any financial help from FEMA, Walsh and Schwennker were able to acquire a small-business loan from New York State. New York State Electric and Gas also afforded them a small grant.
“The building had to be gutted right to the studs,” Walsh said. “It’s still the original building. We hired local contractors and have put a thank you list on the back of our menu. It was a group effort, and we are very satisfied with the outcome. We have added a lot more glass and have opened up the ceiling.”