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High water troubles Sandusky businesses, including Lagoon Deer Park

Posted: 4:08 PM, Jun 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-27 18:02:15-04
Lagoon Deer Park

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Recent rainy days, in addition to already-high water levels along Lake Erie, have caused even more flooding in Sandusky, where businesses are experiencing problems due to the high water.

Lagoon Deer Park hasn’t been able to open its petting zoo to the public because the pens for its approximately 200 animals are underwater. Jeff Nielsen, the general manager, said water has backed up from Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie into his ponds, farm and property.

"It’s just a hollow shell feeling. There’s literally nothing I can do, and I’m an island here," Nielsen said. "People say pump it out. There’s nowhere to pump it to. It would come right back in."

The animal's safety is Nielsen's number one concern, but he said he's still hoping to be able to open this summer.

"It’s just the financial thing," Nielsen said. "I make my money now to feed them all winter long, and it costs upwards of a thousand dollars a week to feed these animals."

Not only that, but Nielsen said he's paying for souvenirs, advertising and other upfront costs. While the animals are still getting fed and cared for, he said ongoing issues like these might be cause for concern going forward.

"If this is just a one-time thing, a one year thing, things reverse next year, which it could, you know, I can try to limp through a year," Nielsen said. "But if it’s gonna be year after year, I don’t know. I’m gonna have to start watching things pretty close. I don’t want to close. We’ve been here 63 years. I’m one of the oldest tourist attractions short of Cedar Point in the area."

Lagoon Deer Park isn't the only business in Sandusky dealing with flooding. At the Jet Express dock in Sandusky, several inches of water sit atop concrete on a platform where passengers would normally wait for ferries.

At the Little Fry Wagon, a food truck connected with Barrel House, water encroaching on the parking lot has been an issue, according to employee Lauren Adams.

"This is our first year so it’s a little challenging for us," Adams said.

Adams said the water has caused problems for the business at times and has sometimes kept potential customers away.

"It’ll come up right behind the wagon, which literally like floods and stops [...] customers from coming up," Adams said.

For Nielsen and his animals, the rest of the season depends on forces beyond his control.

"Just a lost feeling," Nielsen said. "A helpless feeling that I can’t do nothing about right now. It’s all up to Mother Nature."