Big Sandy Lake Businesses Take Hit From Flooding, No Wake Zone

By KBJR News 1

July 6, 2012 Updated Jul 6, 2012 at 10:47 PM CDT

Aitkin County, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Businesses along Big Sandy Lake in Aitkin County are seeing a major drop in business after record flooding hit the area last month.

"Through the middle of July we've actually had about 75 cancellations directly due to the flooding," said Big Sandy Lodge and Resort owner, Don Proulx,"It's many of hundreds of thousands of dollars."

When record flooding hit Big Sandy Lake last month, the water rose feet above the shoreline, swallowing docks and homes in its path, leading tourists to find different waters for boating.

"I think it's clearly evident that people have gone elsewhere. The traffic is not there," said Big Sandy Lake Lake Association member, Bruce Johnson, "Our [boat] landings are flooded and it's very difficult to launch boats with the high water."

The flooding at Big Sandy Lake might not be the only reason businesses are taking a hit. A No Wake Zone, put in place to protect the shoreline from rough waters, could also be keeping boaters away from the lake.

"You can't go fast. You can't inner tube and wake board and jet ski and do the things people expect to do when they come to the resort for summer vacation," said Proulx.

Both Proulx and Johnson say that the No Wake Zone is important to protect the shoreline and homes around Big Sandy Lake. However, they also think that along with the shoreline waves, it's also been keeping business down.

"It's been real bad for the lake itself, for the business, but it's been good for the shoreline protection," said Johnson.

Proulx says that his customers understand the No Wake Zone. He's made an effort to promote activities at the lodge that don't make a wake.

However, cancellations continue to come in. Proulx says that at this time of year the lodge is usually at full capacity. As of now, he estimates it's at 30 to 40-percent capacity.

Proulx says he's making the most of the slow business. It's given him an opportunity to help flood victims.

"Because we have vacancies due to cancellations, we're able to offer discounted rates and shorter stays to some of the flooding victims," he said.

Aitkin County officials will remove the No Wake Zone once Big Sandy Lake is back to its normal water levels.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.