MONTE RIO (KPIX) — This weekend, the Russian River area will be open for business but not entirely.
Unseasonably consistent May rains have the river running too high and fast for many boating operations. It’s another, if minor, setback for an area still struggling to fully recover from February flooding.
“So it’s come down but it’s still too high for us to consider opening this weekend,” says Ted Schroeder of Burke’s Canoe Trips.
For Schroeder, this was to have been the first summer-style weekend along the river. It will have to wait, as he will not be putting boats in the water.
“It’s disappointing to a lot of people, to miss out on Memorial Day weekend, businesses and tourists alike,” Schroeder said.
In late February, Roger Hicks was just assessing the flood damage at his Monte Rio hotel and restaurant operation. Today, he’s still trying to get some of the rooms repaired.
“These are all disinfected and cleaned up, the wiring is been done, the framing has been done,” he explains, giving a brief tour of the still unfinished guest rooms.
His Village Inn is now operating at about 60 percent capacity and it has been a slower road to recovery than he would have liked.
“Yeah we thought we would be by now,” he says. “We thought we would have all the rooms running, but that’s just the way it’s happened. We’ll get there.”
On the opposite side of the river, it’s a similar story.
“I was more optimistic I thought we would have every room open by Memorial Day,” says Karen O’Brien, owner of the Inn On the Russian River.
“I don’t think that will be until June 5, so we are two weeks behind schedule.”
O’Brien also has a few rooms that are still behind schedule, so “no vacancy” really means about 80 percent capacity but there are some larger trends here that may be more troubling than the actual flood aftermath.
Back at the Village Inn, Hicks has experienced a similar slowdown. “Well people are coming,” he says. “But not like that in the past material of the fire because of the fires in the floods, it scared them off.”
Fires, floods, and maybe even lingering snow in the Sierra, have all combined for what business owners here describe a slight but noticeable slowdown. Hicks describes it as fewer visitors on the weekdays and smaller crowds on the weekends. And that’s despite the fact that just about everything up here, is open for business.
“We want them to know we’re alive and well,” Hicks says. “So come on in, and have some fun.”