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thousand locals showed up. In Lyons, Engelhorn said that in addition to being flooded and without utilities, the town was shut off by a roadblock. People took to the unpaved mountain roads and side roads, sometimes parking miles away and hiking in with food or medicine. The local market took its perishable inventory to the school, which was serving as a shelter. “There were a lot of parties,” he said, as people’s deep freezers thawed and food had to be cooked. Spirit Hound took the batch of rum that had gotten submerged by the flood and sold it as a fundraiser for the fire department. They had buttons for $50, $100, $150 and $200 bottles, eventually handing the firefighters a check for $10,000. “People would come in and say, ‘I want to buy one of those $200 bottles of rum,’” Engelhorn said. “After the flood, I saw the best in people.”

THE NEXT ONE Those who have been through such an event have plenty of advice for those who live and work in a flood or storm zone and may be thinking about the next big one. At Kozuba & Sons, the crucial point was to “protect your primary asset:” Have insurance in place to cover the hundreds of thousands or millions of retail dollars in product, whether it’s in bottles or barrels. “If the warehouse got flooded, then we would be in big trouble,” Kozuba said. “You want to protect it, this is your asset. One of your biggest expenses is insurance, my advice is probably pay for the right insurance. I know it hurts, paying for insurance is expensive, but I think it's worth every dollar just to be on the safe side.” Breda, in Houston, was on the same page. “If we were facing a significant storm where the facility was in danger — something like Katrina or Ike bearing down on us directly, keeping in mind we’re 90 miles inland — we would pretty much stick with the standard plan: trust in insurance and reinforce our windows,” he said. Spoelman also believes in protecting Kings County’s “most precious commodity,” in a more physical sense. “The aging inventory being upstairs far and away made the difference for us, being in business now versus not being in business any more,” he said. “Store your barrels in a place where they're not likely to be jeopardized by floods. If you live in a coastal area, you're going to

be exposed to it. It is one of those things that you can't plan for it, unless you're planning for it every day.” If you’re in a somewhat more precarious position, like an island that’s a hundred-mile drive from the mainland, you might already know what to do. “You carry a go-bag,” Menta said, with things like medical supplies, Gatorade and waterproof lights. “Be prepared. There's a certain calm if you feel prepared. Don't do anything out of your comfort zone. It'll go horribly wrong,” he said. “It was in our business plan how to handle this, and it worked.” He also encourages people to, “Be creative, write dumb shit. Up on the roof, in big orange letters, we spray painted ‘Save the Rum.’” Back in Iowa, Quint cautioned against expecting too much, too soon, from a government bureaucracy. “The FEMA process, at least at the time, getting any significant FEMA help was a very long process. You have immediate needs, and for a federal government to come in and try to provide any immediate help is an insurmountable task,” he said. “Work with your local economic development support staff. It isn't just FEMA that can help with this.” Because they’re classified as an agricultural business, he said they “found quicker relief working through a USDA program than working through FEMA.” He also advocates for business interruption insurance as well as insurance against environmental hazards. “Understand what your natural disaster risks are, floods, tornadoes, fires. We’re up on top of a hill now, so tornado hits and lightning strikes are some of our biggest risks, and we’re insured for those,” he added. Quint cautions against the proverbial eggs in one basket, also. “Don’t keep all your inventory in one place. We have whiskey in five buildings, in case a tornado takes out one of them.” At Spirit Hound, Engelhorn urged others to “heed the warning” and be proactive when a possible storm is coming. “It wasn’t much, but it’s a lot of time to get stuff off the ground,” he said. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a contractor on day one. Everyone else is getting in line, so don’t hesitate to get in line first. The same is true of volunteer groups. And when the big one comes, and insurance kicks in then what’s at the top of his shopping list? “All the rags, man.”

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Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  
Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.