ST. LOUIS – The Third Degree Glass Factory is known for its beautiful creations and as a popular even space. But in July 2022 a surge of water changed everything in a matter of minutes.

“It was a little before three o’clock, and it was raining pretty good, but not too bad,” said Doug Auer, co-founder of Third Degree Glass Factory. “And within about 20 minutes, where I’m standing right now was under two and half feet of water.”

On July 28, 2022, heavy rainfall and flash flooding slammed the region for the second time in three days.

“Out in the middle of Delmar, we didn’t measure it, but I would guess it was at least three feet deep, maybe more,” Auer said.

Auer could only watch as the water broke through the windows and poured into his glass art studio.

“Just like a tidal wave. Knocked over all these pedestals and the glass came crashing down,” he said. “Unfortunately, I saw that firsthand. It was a really sad moment.”

In the true nature of flash flooding, the crew had to be helped out of the building by the St. Louis Fire Department, but was able to get back inside and start cleanup later that day.

“Within an hour, the water was completely gone. And within another hour, fortunately, about 30 people from our glass community showed up to help start cleaning up that night,” Auer said.

Thanks to volunteers in the art community and neighborhood, Third Degree reopened two weeks later. But it took much longer to replace the handmade, one-of-a-kind glass works that were lost to the rushing water.

“It took months to replenish what was in the gallery,” Auer said. “It was a difficult part of the process.”

In 20 years, Third Degree Glass Factory had never seen a flood. And that day, they were the only business in the Delmar Maker District to get inundated.

“If you had walked 150 feet in either direction, you were above that flood water,” Auer said.

Insurance didn’t cover the damage. Auer is grateful for having a resilient building and a dedicated community of artists that were there to help them quickly get back to doing what they do.

“Of course, we hope it never happens again. We definitely are thinking twice about locating things really low to the ground,” Auer said. “But at this point, we’re just going to take things as they come and, hopefully, we won’t have to do that again.”

You can check out Third Degree Glass Factory and other spots in the Maker District at the Third Friday events. More information here.