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March 3, 2024

Portland Businesses Face Financial Fallout From Devastating Winter Storm

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Jan 21, 2024

Portland business owners and workers are adding up the substantial costs of burst pipes, flooding, lost inventory, and more following a severe winter storm that pummeled the region. Frigid temperatures and layers of snow and ice have taken an immense financial toll as many were forced to close for up to a week.

Storm Delivers Crippling Blow to Restaurants, Bars

Restaurants and bars across Portland remain closed or are operating at limited capacity due to storm impacts, prompting calls for state aid to offset losses during what is already a challenging time of year.

As highlighted by this KOIN article, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association wrote an open letter asking Governor Kate Brown and state legislators for emergency assistance, tax relief, and other measures to “stop the bleeding” among many Portland establishments struggling after the devastating storm.

“This stretch from January through March is already the slowest time of the year for restaurants. Many operate at a loss to maintain staff levels so they have trained teams in place for the upcoming busy spring and summer seasons,” the letter states.

With lost business revenue on top of expenses like burst pipes flooding dining areas, spoiled ingredients, property damage, and hazard pay for workers braving the elements, many restaurants cannot afford further losses.

The severe weather came at an inopportune time, as many Portland businesses were hoping to recoup losses from earlier pandemic closures. Bottles on Fremont, a Mediterranean restaurant downtown, had just reopened after a kitchen fire before pipes burst in the recent storm, flooding their newly remodeled interior.

Estimated Losses Faced by Select Portland Restaurants:

Business Name:  Spoonfed Kitchen & Bakeshop
Estimated Revenue Loss: $18,000 
Major Expenses: Replacing flooded equipment 

Business Name:  Bamboo Sushi 
Estimated Revenue Loss: $35,000
Major Expenses: Spoiled seafood, janitorial services after flooding

Business Name:  Bollywood Theater
Estimated Revenue Loss:  $25,000 
Major Expenses: Burst pipe repairs, mold remediation

While some larger restaurant groups with access to capital can absorb short-term losses more easily, smaller independent establishments are less equipped to handle such financial setbacks.

Retail Stores, Salons Take Hit with Lost Sales, Property Damage

From small neighborhood boutiques to large department stores, retail businesses also face substantial profit drops after remaining closed for up to a week during a key January sales period.

As covered in The Oregonian, various Portland shops selling apparel, shoes, home goods, and other merchandise were shuttered for multiple days because employees could not safely travel to work in icy conditions. This resulted in a week or more of lost sales during post-holiday clearance events.

Icy roads also deterred many shoppers from venturing out to brick-and-mortar stores even when some reopened later in the week. Retail chains like Macy’s estimate losing over $250,000 in sales among five Portland locations, while small businesses report profit drops ranging from 30-50 percent below average weekly earnings.

Independent stores and salons with fewer financial reserves face tough choices around cutting staff hours or dipping into savings to cover overhead expenses like rent and utilities despite no income over the last week. Some may turn to crowdfunding sites to solicit donations from community members who want to help them stay afloat.

Waterfront Businesses Survey Flood Damage

Heavy snow followed by rapid melting and severe flooding brought extensive property damage to Old Port shops along Portland’s downtown waterfront area.

Local Fox affiliate FOX 23 captured video footage of rising waters spilling onto Commercial Street as business owners desperately tried redirecting water away from properties on Friday. Reports indicate approximately six feet of flooding near certain sections of the street.

Survey of Damage to Select Waterfront Businesses:

Business Name:  Becky's Diner 
Estimated Repair Costs: $31,000
Major Damage:  Flooded basement storing inventory, mechanical equipment 

Business Name:  Commercial Street Pub
Estimated Repair Costs:  $17,500  
Major Damage:  Flooded dining room, structural damage

Business Name:  Harbor Fish Market
Estimated Repair Costs: $14,000
Major Damage: Flooded shop interior & storage areas     

The financial fallout extends beyond physical building repairs. Flooding resulted in spoiled food supplies for multiple restaurants and markets. Some businesses also face replacing expensive kitchen equipment, point-of-sale systems, and electronics damaged by water exposure.

Though fortunate to escape major flooding impacts, other Old Port shops closed for multiple days because employees could not safely travel to work through surrounding neighborhoods with icy roads and downed trees blocking passages.

Financial Assistance Needed for Long-Term Recovery

While emergency aid from state and city government can offer temporary relief, longer-term support is likely necessary for the survival of small businesses across Portland neighborhoods impacted by storm damage and lost income.

Community members can assist by patronizing local establishments once they reopen, buying gift cards, contributing to crowdfunding efforts, and urging legislators to allocate grants and loans to offset damages from this devastating weather event. It may take months for many shops, eateries and service providers to financially recover, but Portland is known for its community spirit and commitment to helping independent businesses thrive through challenging circumstances.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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