Stable Cafe's courtyard and Saison were affected by this morning's flood.

The owner of Stable Cafe, Thomas Lackey, got a rough wake-up call this morning. When he heard the heavy rain at approximately 3:45 a.m., he threw on some clothes and ran down to the cafe, but the damage was already done: his building, which houses Stable Cafe and Saison, was flooded.

It’s not yet clear how many people were affected by the early morning flood, but most businesses along the western side of Folsom Street between 17th and 18th streets were closed this morning.

Photo by Hélène Goupil

Three manhole covers blew out, Lackey said, and water was gushing out. He called 911 and put the manhole covers back on himself before help arrived.

A mix of rainwater and sewage flooded the cafe and adjacent courtyard. Next to the business, the water level appeared to have reached as high as eight inches.

The trouble was no surprise to most of the neighborhood business owners and residents we interviewed; winter floods have been a recurring problem on the street.

Photo by Hélène Goupil

“This happens every year, there’s nothing new here,” said Boris Chukreeff, who owns two apartment buildings on Folsom Street.

“This is a low-lying area, it tends to be prone to flooding,” said Jean Wash, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

A major capital improvement project designed to address the issue was completed by the city in 2008, Walsh said.

“We might have worse flooding if that hadn’t been done,” she said.

An investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the flood.

This morning, business owners were busy cleaning up and assessing the damage. Cleaning crews were there to help.

Photo by Liz Melchor

“It’s a killer; I lost $21,000 in products last time,” Lackey said, referring to a flood in 2009, when he had to close the cafe for nine days. He hopes that this time it will take only two days to clean up.

This morning’s downpour also affected Humphry Slocombe on 24th Street, but the ice cream store was able to open. The company tweeted: “torrential downpour last night left our office area in deep water…where books were stored. Grrr.”

Co-owner Sean Vahey told Mission Loc@l that their back kitchen and office were damaged by the flood, but their products were fine.

Hélène Goupil

Hélène Goupil is a former editor at Mission Local who now works independently as a videographer and editor. She's the co-author of "San Francisco: The Unknown City" (Arsenal Pulp Press).

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  1. I used to live in that building, before walls were even erected, back in the early ’70’s. It belonged to my mom’s second husband and a family friend. Wish I could have seen it as a restaurant. Sorry for the loss.

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