Jaime Schorr, the owner of Traverse Coffee Co. at 140 Water St. in Hallowell, stands Saturday near a wall at her shop that illustrates the 3 1/2 feet of damaging water brought by historic flooding in December. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

HALLOWELL — Jaime Schorr stood Saturday inside Traverse Coffee Co., recalling the day the Kennebec River flooded the building she rents for her shop — a business she took over only a year ago.

Traverse Coffee Co., like some other establishments on Water Street, has been shut for more than a month following the Dec. 18 storm that wreaked havoc across central Maine, causing the Kennebec River to flood streets, invade basements and structurally damage buildings.

Inside the building, which residents often visit for their morning dose of caffeine, floors have been ripped out, revealing wooden planks and cracks that offer a window into a dark basement. The walls have been stripped up to 3 1/2 feet from the floor, marking the levels to which water rose.

“I knew the risk of having a business beside the river. It’s what these towns are built on, but you just don’t think it’s (flooding) is going to happen to you,” said Schorr, who had previously weathered flooding in the basement, but the storm in December was unprecedented for her.

Schorr recalled that on the day of the storm, she had not been notified of the impending flood.

“We rushed to the store only after we got a call from other business owners,” Schorr said. “We had maybe an hour to remove whatever we could from the basement. We tried that and then went to the neighboring store to help them move stuff. It was all a lot.”


Damaged floors and walls inside Traverse Coffee Co. at 140 Water St. in Hallowell are seen Saturday. Historic flooding in December is requiring repairs that are costing the business thousands of dollars. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Schorr said she had hoped her business at 140 Water St. would resume serving by Feb. 1, but she recently learned of a setback.

“We just found out that there has been significant damage to the building’s structural integrity due to the flood,” she said. “The whole building will have to be lifted, and then the beam under it will have to be repaired or replaced.”

Inside The Quarry Tap Room at 122 Water St. in Hallowell, workers replace flooring Saturday that was damaged by historic flooding in December. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The costs of fixing the structural damage is to be paid by the building’s owner, Schorr said, but she is expecting to pay about $25,000 out of her pocket for fixing everything else inside the building, from the walls to the floors. Schorr started a GoFundMe page to help offset the costs. So far, the page has raised about $10,000 in donations.

Local organizations are collaborating to assist in the recovery efforts, while preparing for the future.

“We are a river town, and with climate change, this is going to happen again. Which is why we have decided to set up a Hallowell flood relief fund,” said Karen Knox, the president of Vision Hallowell, a nonprofit organization assisting businesses.

The organization is working with the Hallowell Pride Alliance and the city’s Arts and Cultural Committee to raise funds. The organizations have planned Mardi Gras celebrations for Feb. 10, the proceeds of which are to go to the relief fund.


Knox added that Vision Hallowell is surveying downtown businesses to evaluate how the funds are to be distributed. The group is leveraging its affiliation with the Maine Development Foundation by requesting information about grants and programs it can utilize to gather state or federal dollars.

“We also want to help businesses that are struggling and are not in a position to recover as quickly as the others,” Knox said.

A few buildings away from Traverse Coffee Co., The Quarry Tap Room at 122 Water St. is nearly finished replacing the floors, the smell of glue and paint temporarily filling the building.

The bar, which is usually filled with local folks drinking and watching sports, is without furniture. A floor polisher sits in front of the bar, where liquor bottles have remained untouched for weeks.

Steven Lachance, co-owner of the business, speculated the total cost to fix the floor, install a new electrical system and replace equipment could run more than $100,000.

“We also lost a lot of products, beers, wine and other liquors — all sitting at the bottom of the river,” Lachance said.


Following the flood, Lachance moved The Quarry Tap Room’s equipment to the upper floor as a precaution.

“When that river comes back through, because I can’t say it will never happen, we will have equipment stored away,” he said.

Lachance, who is hoping to reopen by the end of January, said 50 employees are waiting eagerly as The Quarry Tap Room recuperates. One employee’s husband has begun a page for donations that has collected more than $10,000 to help employees pay bills while they are not working.

“A lot of them can’t wait to get back to work, and we can’t wait to have them back,” Lachance said. “We have the Mardi Gras weekend coming up, and hopefully we can be ready by then and have a celebration.”

Some Hallowell businesses, including Merrill’s Bookshop at 110 Water St., fared better than others and have already reopened.

John Merrill, owner of Merrill’s Bookshop at 110 Water St. in Hallowell, sits inside his store Saturday. Merrill says he lost 8 tons of books during historic flooding in December. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“I have been here since 1991, but I have never seen a flood like that,” John Merrill, the bookshop’s owner, said. “I had a basement full of books, up to 8 tons, which ended up in the dumpster. The only thing heavier than books is wet books.”


Business owners in Hallowell said they have been in contact with the City Council, which is still deciding how to distribute funds to help with the recovery.

“The council is thinking if they can use American Rescue Plan Act funds to help the businesses,” City Manager Gary Lamb said. “There will be a workshop on Jan. 24 to discuss the possibility.”

Back at Traverse Coffee Co., Schorr playfully pointed out the only item in the room that survived the flood: A painting by a local artist of a building on Water Street that existed in 1933.

“I always loved that painting,” she said, “and I was so happy that it survived.”

Schorr admitted that even after her shop reopens, it will be a while before things are back to normal.

“It will be a long process to go back to the usual business, but I know the day we open there will be a long line outside,” she said. “Unfortunately, now, we are all petrified of the spring and what’s going to happen. We look out of the window, and the river is still high. So, yeah, we are all very nervous.”

Jaime Schorr, the owner of Traverse Coffee Co. at 140 Water St. in Hallowell, says this painting of Hallowell in 1933 was one of the only items at her shop that was not damaged by historic flooding in December. Schorr says she was given the painting, the creation of a local artist. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

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