Sunday, April 14, 2024 Apr 14, 2024
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Deep Ellum Businesses React to Devastating Flooding

Monday’s once-a-thousand-years storm caused thousands of dollars in flood damage to some businesses in the neighborhood, especially those on and near Commerce Street.
Flood damage at Flea Style in Deep Ellum. Courtesy of Brittany Cobb

When Deep Vellum manager Riley Rennhack walked into the bookstore Monday, she “cried immediately.” It was wet and muddy everywhere. The damage from Monday morning’s storm, she says, was devastating. 

She’s not wrong. Parts of Dallas received almost 15 inches of rain, Senior online editor Bethany Erickson reported Tuesday. Videos circulated of the Trinity River rising to almost 36 feet and people rescuing stuck motorists stuck, and floodwaters destroying cars and homes. County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a state of disaster, opening up aid to folks and small businesses. The last time it rained this bad was 90 years ago. Erickson wrote, “Bonnie and Clyde had just started their crime spree. The Lindbergh Baby had been kidnapped. The latest Marx Brother’s flick, Horse Feathers, was showing in movie theaters.”

Many reports isolated damages to East Dallas, especially in Deep Ellum. While the whole neighborhood wasn’t washed away, many businesses and restaurants, especially along Commerce Street, were hit hard by the high water. Impacted businesses include Sneaker Politics, Nylo Wool, and D for Dapper.

Some were able to get their spots operational again quickly—Terry Black’s on Main Street reopened Tuesday. Others, like Ellum Electric at Commerce and Walton streets, were stuck sifting through the damages.  

“Like much of Dallas, a number of Deep Ellum businesses felt the effects of the recent, historic rainfall, having to clean up flooded floors and do their best to save their products,” Deep Ellum Foundation’s marketing and business development manager Taylor Cogan texted D Magazine. “Their teams are coming together to dry out spaces, clean rugs and more, and Deep Ellum is open for business. We’ve had recent years reminding all why supporting local business matters, and this weather event is yet another one: Stop in when they reopen, shop through their online stores and show your favorite local spots some love.”

We reached out to businesses in the area impacted by the flood to hear their stories and find out what people can do to help. 

Flooding at Cane Rosso. Video courtesy of Chip Harrison.

Cane Rosso (2612 Commerce St.) 

On Monday, pizza joint Cane Rosso shared a video on social media of water pouring into the building from a wall, captioning it, “Welp, Cane Rosso Deep Ellum will be open for to-go or delivery only while we get this fixed…call for updates.” There was a crack in the wall, general manager Chip Harrison says. Water leaked in through that crack and flooded the floor. Harrison says it “wasn’t fun for the first few hours,” but he and three other employees squeegeed all the water out. The restaurant was back open by Monday evening’s dinner service and the restaurant began to share memes about the experience on Instagram. 

Flea Style (3009 Commerce St.)

Flea Style founder Brittany Cobb was woken up at 4 a.m. Monday by texts and calls from her neighbor, showing her videos of the Deep Ellum flooding. She checked her security cameras and saw water glistening in the darkness. She didn’t know what she’d be walking into, but “I knew it was going to be bad.”

When the Flea Style team arrived at the store later that day, water was everywhere. “It’s devastating,” she says. Mannequins were floating, there was a “lake” in the back north-east corner, and all the shop’s paper products were ruined. Cobb guesses the store got 10-plus inches of water. 

Within 30 minutes of arriving, Cobb was able to get restoration company Servpro into the space. The company began vacuuming out water and removing rugs restoration. On Tuesday, Servpro started peeling back baseboards. Dehumidifiers were brought in to get the moisture out the air. Meanwhile, the Flea Style team ordered pizzas, blasted music, and got to work clearing everything out. 

“And then we’ll just clean up and restore and put it back together the best we can,” Cobb says, “but we’ve lost over $100,000 in inventory.”  

Cobb says they’ll be working on cleanup through at least Friday. She hopes to reopen the shop Saturday, but Flea Style’s taken another hit being closed and losing sales all week. She encouraged folks to shop online or at Flea Style’s other locations. Additionally, customers who book a hat bar reservation at any location through Monday, August 29, will receive a free Texas hat pin. 

Says Cobb, “These are the times that people need to support local more than ever.”

Third String Entertainment (209 S Walton St.)

Third String Entertainment “was greatly impacted by the flooding this week,” founder Mike Ziemer wrote in an email to D. The company’s Deep Ellum recording studio is down the block from Deep Vellum and Ellum Electric, which both were badly hit as well. Ziemer wrote that the company’s office and studio hit hard, and they’ll will be out of the space for at least two weeks while they assess and fix the damages. “We also are out of studio work for that time period and possibly beyond depending on how bad it affected our recording equipment.”

Deep Vellum (3000 Commerce St.)

Despite Rennhack making lots of jokes about “God sparing us,” when she walked into Deep Vellum Monday, “I felt so defeated that I wanted to like sit down lay in it and give up.” It was wet everywhere, and there was a layer of silty mud on everything. 

Anything that was on the ground was ruined. They had to throw out a carpet in the office (it’s okay, Rennhack says, she “hated that rug anyways”). They lost some hard copies from a recent event and pretty much all their galleys and advance reader copies of new, unpublished books. Boxes of Deep Vellum T-shirts were so soaked, Rennhack had to take them home and wash them out. “Now they’re all prewashed,” she says, “so come get a ‘Read B*tch’ T-shirt.”

Luckily most of their books survived. Deep Vellum’s 23,000-book warehouse, which is on higher ground than the bookshop, was unscathed. In the shop, most of the books escaped—with just half an inch to spare. Rennhack thinks they got about six inches of water. All the books on the shelves were okay, but their shelf-talkers—the little slips of paper hanging down from the bottom with bookseller recommendations—show the evidence of just how close the floodwater got. “You can see from the bleed of where the water was, that it just barely didn’t get the lowest shelf.” Some books did, however, warp in all the humidity, but Rennhack says those will be sold at a discount.

Deep Vellum was closed for two days while they cleaned up. They mopped out the water, disinfected, and had fans going to get the mildew smell out. Rennhack says neighbors came out to help get things out of the building “Everyone around has been so sweet.” They also had a discount code out for free shipping those days and encouraged people to shop the online store. They were able to reopen Wednesday, but “we’re very small and so two days being closed does hurt us.” 


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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