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An Ellicott City business trying to reopen after the historic floods was burglarized

Posted at 6:24 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 07:37:48-05

The Phoenix Emporium has been a mainstay in Ellicott City since 1979.  After the historic flooding at the end of July, the bar and restaurant had to be completely gutted.

"The basement was completely submerged in water, and where I’m standing now was about four-feet deep," owner Mark Hemmis said.

There was clean up, and then the rebuild started.  Structural, electrical and plumbing problems popped up, so dreams of being back up and running by November kept getting pushed back.           

This week, the business was slapped with another set back.  The Phoenix Emporium was burglarized.

Hemmis said he left the building around 10 p.m.Tuesday, and he made sure the side door was locked.  However, when he came back the next morning around 7:30, the door was wide open.

"Took me a couple minutes to realize that a bunch of things were missing," he said.

During the night, someone broke in and swiped thousands of dollars’ worth of power tools and electronics.  Hemmis said the thieves took their time, making sure they hit all three floors of the building.

"Miter saws, and drills, and sanders, and circular saw, and that kind of equipment,” Hemmis said.  “We're missing multiple televisions, we're missing a computer system, some checks and we’re still kinda going through our inventory to figure out what we're missing."

He's not sure how the crooks got inside, but it's a crushing blow that will set them back, yet again.  Hemmis said it’s overwhelming.

"All the work that we've done, it was extraordinarily frustrating to watch it get stopped, we had a lot of momentum going, we truly we're hoping to have this place open in two to three weeks," he said.

But work is not stopping.  Hemmis is determined to get the Phoenix fixed and customers back in the door.

"I think we're gonna get open, might slow us down a little bit, but we'll continue, we'll get through this."

Back when the flood happened, the Phoenix Emporium started a GoFundMe page to help its 22 employees who were out of work.  They raised about $30,000 and cut checks for the workers.  Since Wednesday, folks started donating again.  So far, about $3,000 has been raised.  Hemmis says any new money will go to help get the establishment back open.

He’s blown away by the generosity and support.  Not only are people giving funds, they’re also offering services and tools so the job can get done.

“We got a saw brought to us today,” Hemmis said.  “Very generously loaned to us.”

Howard County Police are investigating the burglary, they say it could be connected to another commercial crime that happened in Ellicott City that same night.

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