Chicago Riverwalk Flooding Hits Businesses' Bottom Line

Businesses that depend on the Chicago River expressed concern after heavy rainfall over the weekend resulted in a loss of customers and profit.

The entire Chicago area saw record rainfall on Saturday, with flooding impacting most of northern Illinois and even overtaking the city's Riverwalk.

Water flowed over the downtown tourist hotspot, shutting down restaurants and cafes at a critical time when they are collecting their last revenue before winter. [[450922613, C]]

For many, Monday marked the third day with no business.

Wendella boat tours hasn't been able to operate since Friday because the water level is too high, with every inch counting on the Chicago River.

The water must recede "about 8 inches until we can clear this bridge but that's only clearing it. But in order to safely pass under it, we need another 2 beyond that," Wendella Director of Marine Operations Mike McElroy said Monday.

"Right about the time we needed it the most which is on the weekends, it shut us down," McElroy added.

Meanwhile, potential customers from all over the world have been turned away.

"Of course I'm disappointed. And I talked it up. I was like, you have to do this. And now we're not doing it," said Joshua Bullock, visiting Chicago from Los Angeles with a friend. [[450931213, C]]

The historic weekend rainfall also cut off restaurants along the Riverwalk.

"All hell broke lose," said Maria Visto-Perez, the manager of Tiny Tapp & Cafe. "The water kept continuously rising. Rats were starting to come up out of their nests."

Chicago's Finest Tours estimated that the company has already lost thousands of dollars.

"We're getting close to the end of the summer season, we're not going to be able to make up this money. That is devastating," said tour guide Cindy Cooper.

While the water has receded, several inches of mud remain on the Riverwalk that the City continues to work to clean.

"I was excited to see it," tourist Asher Feigenbaum said. "It's a beautiful area but it's covered in mud so I can't go down there."

Although businesses have been impacted by the weather, the City said the Riverwalk was designed for this kind of event, engineered to withstand floods and the portion of the structure that remains closed was expected to reopen Tuesday.

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