CHICAGO (CBS) — Memorial Day weekend is usually a big money maker for some businesses along the water, but recent rain is dealing a devastating blow to shops already stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not what Memorial Day weekend at Broken Oar Bar and Grill in Port Barrington is supposed to look like.
“You can see all of our picnic tables, all of our dining tables are all a good six inches under water right now,” said owner Bonnie Miske Haber.
She has fonder memories of crowds packing the patio along the Fox River.
“As I stand here today, on our biggest day of the year, we are absent of any customers right now, so it’s heartbreaking,” she said.
She now has a lot fewer tables to set up for outdoor social distance dining this week. Her boat traffic is not even floating in.
The Fox River and Chain O’ Lakes remain closed because of high water levels.
“It’s been one thing after another,” Miske Haber said. “We’re taking one step forward, two steps backwards.”
It’s unclear when the 7,000 acres of waterway and 500 miles of shoreline will open, and that’s terrible news for businesses hoping to recover from the financial pinch of the pandemic. Many aren’t cashing in on those big crowds from Chicago.
“We’ve had several of those calls today,” said Fox 14 Marina owner Garry Zack. “They don’t want to come out unless they can plan on what they are going to do. Obviously you’re not going to bring your skis and stuff.”
Zack owns two marinas in McHenry County. The good news is more boaters are coming back as COVID-19 restrictions get loosened.
“But now we’ve got this predicament with the river getting way too high again, so Mother Nature’s doing it to us,” Zack said. “We’re a tight community on our lower river and our Chain O’ Lakes.”
The Fox Waterway Agency says water levels are still rising. Businesses predict waterways will be closed for at least another week and a half.