Flooding Hits Lake Eufaula Businesses Hard

Friday, June 19th 2015, 6:32 pm
By: Tess Maune

As the water continues to rise, flooding has forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to shut down recreation at campgrounds on Lake Eufaula. The businesses around Oklahoma's largest lake also are taking a hard hit.

The parking lot at OkieTonk Cafe has been under water since early May and all of the flooding has been too much for this restaurant. The owner's decided to shut down for the rest of the summer, while other businesses at Eufaula Cove are trying to keep their bottom lines above water.

Eufaula Cove is one of the most popular places on Lake Eufaula.

“This is where they come, this is the spot,” Becky Sahli said.

Summertime usually means big business for Eufaula Cove Marina, but so far this summer, it isn't feeling like summer at all.

“Yes, it's depressing,” marina manager Sahli said. “We want people to come.”

Sahli said, because of flooding, the marina has been closed as much as it's been open. The shop is open now, but most boat ramps are still closed. Many campgrounds are shut down for the rest of summer. And with all the debris in the lake, most boaters don't want to risk getting out on the water -- so they're staying home.

“We just haven't even had enough business to even let our employees come back to work,” she said.

A few weeks ago, you only could get to the marina by boat. The walkway finally is out of the water, but just as things were starting to look up...

“We get hit again,” she said.

The lake has risen about three feet in the past 24 hours, and it's expected come up a few more feet before it starts to recede again.

“Our walkway has about six more inches before we're gonna have to start treading water to get down here to get to work,” Sahli said.

Just around the corner, OkieTonk Cafe is still water locked and it has been for more than a month. At one point there was 2 feet of water inside.

The damage and financial loss is so much, the restaurant owners had no choice but to end their lease with the building owner, which put more than six people out of a job.

But Captain John's Seafood and Cajun Grill back at the marina is finally open for its first summer in business on Lake Eufaula.

“Even with the water still coming up, there's a ray of hope up in the sky,” Michael Evans said.

The owners of OkieTonk do have another restaurant in Moore, but said they hope to renegotiate their contract so they can open up again at Lake Eufaula next summer.