Flooding has caused business to drop nearly 80% in Grafton

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GRAFTON, IL - Business owners in Grafton are being hit hard by this latest flood.

It`s the third time this spring that Mississippi River flooding has hit the tourist-driven town, and this one is the most severe.

“We`re literally dead in the water,” said Dan Bechtold.

He and his wife Brenda are feeling the impact of the flood in a big way.

They own three businesses along Main Street in Grafton, and all of them are currently flooded.

In fact, the couple tells us their businesses have only been open for six days since the end of March.

“This is real tough. This is the worst year ever,” said Dan.

Brenda added, “I`ve never seen a time when I`ve flooded three times all in one year. I`ve never seen it.”

Some businesses are still open and at least one is getting creative to try and stay open.

Brad Hagen owns the Grafton Oyster Bar.

He is using a boat to shuttle customers to his restaurant.

Brad took us for a ride, so we could get a first-hand look at his efforts.

“We thought of hey you can either sit still and do nothing or you can try and be creative and do something to help get people into the restaurant,” explained Hagen.

Grafton Mayor Rick Eberlin estimates that this spring business is down about 80%.

Eberlin says Memorial Day Weekend is usually huge for local businesses, but not this year.

He is concerned especially since the floodwaters might not recede for many days.

“We`re trying to do everything we possibly can to allow people to come here,” said Eberlin.

The Raging Rivers Water Park in Grafton was supposed to open yesterday but the opening was delayed a week because of the flooding.

The owner now tells us he will now be forced to delay the opening another week until June 8th because of road closures due to the floodwaters.

The Mississippi is projected to crest this Friday at about 32.5 feet.

That would make the third highest crest ever in Grafton.

Nonetheless, Mayor Eberlin is trying to stay optimistic that the town can recover once the water goes down.

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