JOHN GREEN, Contributing Writer
SARANAC LAKE — The flooding that has hounded the North Country for more than a month has taken a toll on a number of businesses.
Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn, located on Lake Flower, sits as an example of the impact caused by rising waters.
The hotel, which became the first lodge in Saranac Lake when it was established in 1923, had to deal with high waters on the normally lucrative Memorial Day weekend and throughout the weeks that followed.
Water never reached the interiors of the 12 lower-level rooms of the lakefront hotel, but drastic steps had to be taken to prevent damage as waters continued to rise.
Sandbags were piled in front of the rooms, and carpets and other amenities were removed as precautionary measures.
Co-owner Nicole Brownell said the process of flood prevention is difficult.
“For us, it’s really stressful,” she said. “It’s devastating. It’s like watching your home, and you’re just fending it (the water) off.”
With lake water spilling onto the lawn, Gauthier’s was unable to fill all its rooms.
The hotel was forced to cancel reservations for the 12 lake-level rooms on June 15 and 16 and then for the entire week that followed.
Brownell said her business isn’t the only one affected.
“It trickles its way through the entire community,” she said. “My guests, they (usually) go here and then they go to breakfast at the Blue Moon Café or McKenzie’s and they have dinner at Nonna Fina’s or lunch at the Lakeview Deli.
“They all have felt the impact from us not being full.”
Brownell says the guests, for the most part, understood the reason for the cancellations, considering the circumstances.
The hotel, which has received platinum status from Audubon International’s eco-rating program, gave some of the guests a lower rate on non-waterfront rooms. But, the hotel also had to direct some guests to Lake Placid because nearby hotels in Saranac Lake were full.
Although business was lost, Brownell was very appreciative of the work that emergency management teams did to prevent the rising lake water from causing any structural damage.
“If it wasn’t for (the) Franklin County Office of Emergency Management and Ricky Provost, who heads his office, and his deputy John (Bashaw II) and Don Jaquish, who heads the Essex County Office of Emergency Management, my business probably would be in Cadyville right now. It would have just floated away,” she said.
Brownell says the hotel has had trouble with rising water on occasion during the past two years, but never to this extent.
At times this year, the water has risen over the hotel’s three-foot retaining wall, reaching 10 to 12 feet into the yard.
Despite recent flooding, Brownell isn’t worried that the troubles will continue. In her mind, everything is looking up for her business heading into the early part of the summer.
With the worst, hopefully, behind them, she expects a busy summer for Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn.
“We are very confident that with the guys at Franklin County (Emergency Management and) the folks up there in Essex County, they have got this under control,” she said.
“As usual, I’m booked solid through the season.
“I’m not worried about it. We’ll just take it as it comes.”