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Maryland Jeweler Fights To Bounce Back From Thousand-Year Flood

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More than 6 inches of relentless rain pelted the town of Ellicot City, MD, in three hours on Saturday. The resulting “thousand-year” flash flood killed two people and damaged or destroyed 25 buildings, Sam Coyne’s treasured Main Street jewelry store among them.

Main Street became a river, opening up the street surface itself, tearing out building foundations, sweeping away cars and debris, and forcing dramatic rescues of people trapped in the flood.

Coyne, owner of Craig Coyne Jewelers, and Josh Haupt, his husband and business partner, demonstrated their characteristic generosity during the crisis, helping three women, three dogs and a cat to safety in a Chevy Cruz.

“People that know me well will tell you that I am awful at managing life’s more ordinary things like making coffee, feeding the dogs on time, that sort of thing,” Coyne relates. “I’ve always seen the big picture, not so much of the details. So people were shocked to learn how smooth I am under severe stress situations. Josh carried one woman across electrified water while I held her belongings. Another woman was trapped in a house. The dogs didn’t have leashes so that was a wrestling move I hope never to repeat. I used my belt as a leash for the largest dog. The cat surprisingly was the easiest, the owner had him in a roller-style suitcase when we found them.”

Because they were wearing rubber-soled work boots they were able to walk through the water without risk of electrical shock.

“We did some good and I’m happy about it,” Coyne says.

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When Lori Gadola of Kelim Jewelry heard about what happened to Coyne’s store she launched a Go Fund Me page for him with a $40,000 goal at gofundme.com/CraigCoyne.

Coyne says he appreciates the help. “I am amazed at how quickly the costs piled up and no matter how well you are insured there is loss, in this case a lot of it.”.

Gadola had worked with Coyne on a fund raiser in his store for the local autism society. “He has been very generous to community causes that involve health, hunger, education and domestic violence issues,” Gadola says.

Coyne has been in Ellicott City for nearly 17 years, opening a new store in 2014 in his dream location – a historical building on Main Street.

The true value of his business to his clients is not superficial. Dozens of 5-Star Google and Yelp reviews also underline Coyne’s commitment to honesty and personalized customer service.

Ellicott City has a history of flooding so Coyne was as ready as he could have been for even a strong flood. “What happened last week, there is no preparing for,” he says. “I believe six properties so far have been deemed total losses and will be demolished.”

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Inspectors need to enter his property to assess the damage, but he’s concerned that the back of his building may be on the verge of collapse.

He was allowed to enter the building once this week, for just 10 minutes.

“I was able to grab a computer, a file of bills due that must be paid and our back-up hard drive. Moving around with a tree inside the shop and 3 feet of silt on the floor takes a long time. So I’m rather proud I did that much.”

He knows the 3,000-pound vault is intact, upright and standing – on a pile of mud — and customer jewelry is secure. Although water won’t hurt silver, gold, platinum, diamonds and most gemstones, Coyne is concerned about damage to opal and pearl jewelry as well as mechanical watches that have been repaired but not delivered.

‘And I’m sick about all the wonderful occasions that are affected,” Coyne says. “A young man took his trip to propose without an engagement ring. A couple will marry without bands to commemorate the lifelong bond.”

Still, his customers have been very understanding. “I guess I have a little advice for other jewelers after all…get yourself a bunch of really good customers and treat them like family!”

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The timeframe for repair of the structure can’t be determined yet.

“As an historic area, I can’t imagine the cost, time and energy to rebuild,” he says. “I will ask one thing of all the suppliers we do business with and that is to please be patient while we work through our dilemma. I’ve always taken great pride in the timeliness in paying bills and I don’t want a tarnished reputation.”

How Craig Coyne Jewelers looked prior to the “thousand-year” flood. PHOTO COURTESY: SAM COYNE

Sam Coyne in action helping neighbors in the aftermath of the flood. PHOTO COURTESY: SAM COYNE


Eileen McClelland is the managing editor at INSTORE Magazine. Email her at: [email protected].

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