Hot Tubs and High Waters

Community rallies to help a hot tub business in need after a flood

For Vermont-based Knight Tubs, July 10 was anything but a picturesque summer day. For 48 hours, eight inches of rain fell on an already saturated landscape in Ludlow, Vermont, resulting in what the National Weather Service dubbed as The Great Vermont Flood of July 10-11. 

  The hot tub store was breached, causing a total loss of the basement due to flooding. But the real drama unfolded outdoors, where 13 hot tubs had been stacked below the level of the main storefront. Five of those tubs were carried away by the floodwaters, some ending up as far as a mile and a half downstream. The remaining eight tubs — forming a precarious pile that owner Mark Falango calls “Jacuzzi Jenga” — presented a challenge. 

While the showroom floor, featuring four hot tubs, remained unscathed, the wet-test room with a live spa and the back room faced a complete loss. Fortunately, the company’s seven vehicles had been moved the previous day, so Knight Tubs avoided damage to its fleet. Additionally, a storage building housing the chemical supply remained undamaged, preserving a crucial part of the inventory.

Knight Tubs’ fence was destroyed and the property was covered in mud after the flood.

As Falango surveyed the damage, his prevailing thought was, “Time to get to work.”  

“I’m not one to wallow in a difficult situation, and my team shares the same tenacious attitude,” he says. 

After a week of cleaning, the crew could finally get back to running the business, though the recovery process wasn’t over. The electrical panel resided in the waterlogged basement and required a complete rewiring of the building, a process that spanned two months. 

Despite the headaches, the Knight Tubs team remained positive. Most of their clients are second-home owners in the nearby ski resort area, so they were patient with the business during the recovery period. Since summer is traditionally a slower season, customers tended to stay away during the disaster’s aftermath, allowing space and time for cleanup. Jacuzzi — which Knight Tubs sells exclusively — went the extra mile to prioritize essential needs, Falango says.

The recovery process was long, but Falango says the close-knit nature of this small town proved to be a lifeline. The Ludlow road crew pitched in to retrieve a hot tub stuck in debris, and M&M Excavating managed to pull a few tubs from the river.

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M&M Excavating helped recover some tubs.

The last missing hot tub was stuck in swampy terrain and seemed impossible to retrieve, but with the combined efforts of several Black River Rugby Club players, they managed to pull the tub from the marshy land.

Watch Ludlow’s local rugby club help recover a tub that made it 1.5 miles downstream and was stuck where a machine could not get through.

A runaway tub assisted in a swift-water rescue.

One of the loose tubs turned into a surprise blessing. During the flash floods, a truck driver found himself in a precarious situation when his vehicle drifted downstream and became stuck. One of the runaway tubs became pinned against the truck, so the driver climbed out to stand atop the hot tub as he awaited a successful swift-water rescue. 

“I like to think I see the upside in challenging situations — the silver lining,” Falango says. “I’d be OK losing a hot tub to save a life any day.”

Throughout this ordeal, Falango says the Ludlow residents exemplified the community spirit. 

“It reassures me that I made a good choice on where to live and raise my children,” he says. “There is a general attitude around here about watching out for your neighbors. I’m proud to be a part of that.”

While Knight Tubs is not completely back to normal, Falango says they are 95% of the way there.

“As I digest everything, I realize it was a lot to deal with,” he reflects. “Long hours, a summer all but lost and maybe some stress that I wasn’t willing to admit. Now it is time to turn the page. Except for trading e-mails with the insurance companies, we are focused on preparing for the coming ski season and moving onward.”