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Record rains dampen event business in mid-Atlantic states

Record rainfall two weeks ago soaked but didn't sink the event business in the mid-Atlantic states. More than a foot of rain closed landmarks such as the National Archives and National Museum of American History in Washington, while nearly 70 people had to be rescued by boat in Maryland when more than 10 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours.

Jerry Edwards, head of Timonium, Md.-based Chef's Expressions, avoided canceling any scheduled events. "But we did have a real challenge with a tented event," he reports. "We had to move half of it inside because the tent was half-flooded. Then we marched guests to the dry part of the tent with umbrellas, all led by a strolling reggae band."

Similarly, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington did not cancel events. "We were lucky," reports special events director Ted Anderson, "because we had five events during the previous week." The museum did have to close for three days due to a loss of electricity, but "everything now is back to normal," Anderson tells Special Events Magazine.

Blame it on the Rain

The flooding "really hammered" the Bucks County area of Pennsylvania, reports Larry Ott of Newtown Party Center in Newtown, Pa. The venue for one event flooded out, but the event team moved to an alternative location, and only 5 percent of guests failed to attend. The rental company's sister business--venue company Open Aire Affairs--suffered more damage from a flood of inaccurate press than from water for a wedding scheduled during the rains. "The issue was not the venue, except the media depicted Yardley [Pa.] as the new Atlantis, so we fielded phone calls from every one of the 200 guests asking if the wedding was on or not," Ott tells Special Events Magazine. "Even the bride and groom called several times to see if the wedding was taking place, to which I replied, 'You're not getting out of this--you're getting married!'" With many of the small hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns closed, "the bride called me in a panic asking for help in housing 50 to 75 guests who were room-less," Ott reports. "We spent the next few days finding lodging and arranging transportation for the 'wedding refugees.' Needless to say, no one asked for water at the wedding," he says dryly.

Noting that "in our area the inconvenience was minimal when compared to the loss of homes, businesses and even life in the areas a little north of us," Ott adds that his company has been supplying generators, pumps and other equipment to aid those in need.

Flooding on the golf course and ground level of the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort at Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., located on the Delaware River, prompted management to postpone its "Swing and Cast Media Day" slated for July 20.

After the Rainfall

Most events pros, however, weathered the rains with business intact.

"All is well in Philadelphia," Meryl Snow of Berwyn, Pa.-based Feastivities Catered Events tells Special Events Magazine. "It hit hard and dried quickly."

Also reporting no damage are Kelly Andres of Washington-based Select Event Rentals and Ajay Patil of Showcall USA in Baltimore. "We were blessed and had no damage," adds Harith Wickrema of Harith Productions in Willow Grove, Pa.

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