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More than three feet of water fails to dampen business at Tambellini's in Bridgeville

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Not even more than three feet of water in the banquet room could keep Tambellini's Restaurant in Bridgeville closed for more than a few days.

“After (Hurricane Ivan), I said, ‘if it happens again, count me out,' because I couldn't take it financially or mentally,” said owner Dan Tambellini. “But here I am again. I'm back.”

Drenching rains on July 10 sent McLaughlin Run over its banks and into the streets – and the basements of nearby homes and businesses. Tambellini's, on the corner of Railroad and Baldwin streets, saw 3.5 feet.

“It receded shortly after,” Tambellini said, “but 3.5 feet can still do a ton of damage.”

Through the help of employees and a restoration firm, the restaurant was able to partly reopen six days later.

“They were very efficient, very thorough,” he said. “They washed and sanitized everything to the highest degree – every nook and cranny.”

He also got a little help from Cranberry-based Grace Church.

“They, out of the blue, showed up with about four people who were just relentless in their efforts,” he said. “It was really neat.”

Tambellini said that while he doesn't have an estimated cost for the damage this time around, he doesn't expect it to be near that of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which cost the restaurant nearly $340,000. The business did not have flood insurance at that time. Calling it a lesson learned, the establishment now has flood insurance.

Also learning from last time, Tambellini was able to have sandbags and water pumps at the ready. He said his biggest concern was keeping water off the main floor.

“I'll surrender the downstairs, but I just don't want it to get to the ground level,” he said. “I wanted to pump it out as fast as it came in, but it was kind of futile.”

Luckily, he said, the ground floor was spared significant damage.

The only part of the restaurant that remains closed is the basement-level banquet room, which sustained the most damage, including the entirely separate kitchen that services the banquet room. Tambellini said he hopes to have the room open within a few days.

With hurricane season having just started June 1, Tambellini worries this is just the beginning. He said because nothing has been done to tamper the flooding of McLaughlin Run – no dredging, as with the Chartiers Creek – he fears more is yet to come.

“That wasn't the heaviest rain in the world, and it still put 3.5 feet of water in here,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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