Spring Bay restaurant stays open through evacuation

By Beau Ebenezer

April 20, 2013 Updated Apr 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM CDT

SPRING BAY Ill -- Shortly after 3 pm Friday, Spring Bay residents got the news.

"We started packing up yesterday morning, and it wasn't even touching the house," said Spring Bay resident, Timothy Harris. "Now it's got us under."

Due to increased water levels of the Illinois River, Township officials issued an evacuation order, causing residents to pack up their belongings and sand-bag their houses.

"When they say mandatory evacuation, that means we need to get out," said Harris's father-in-law, Tom Magee. "Most people are taking their personal belongings, but you really need to take everything. You don't know what will be left if you don't."

Right on Lake Street, it seemed one thing had remained the same.

One local center piece is picking the township's spirit up for possibly the last time.

Co-owner of Bemer's Village Inn, Brad Rohman, who used to also be an employee of the restaurant, said his building will most likely be a complete loss, and he won't be able to re-open due to the flood.

"People come in and they can have a soda or a beer, and they get to relax. With all of this chaos going on, it's kind of a calming effect here."

Rohman added that sandbagging and closing up early did not help much during the 1979 flood, so he decided he would provide some familiar entertainment for as long as he could.

"It kind of sucks losing this bar," said Spring Bay resident, Joe Lemkemann. "It's been here for as long as I've been around. I just always remember coming down here and eating food with my dad or some of my friends."

The highest level of water Spring Bay has seen is 28.8 feet, but the river is expected to hit 30 feet by Tuesday.

Until then, many residents evacuating Spring Bay made one final stop at Bemer's Village Inn.