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Flash flooding ‘wiped out’ Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS — Floodwater filled Third Degree Glass Factory on Delmar Boulevard with 2 to 3 feet of water on Thursday afternoon, sending glass artwork tumbling, forcing workers to evacuate and canceling the week’s events.

A worker at the site said the deluge “wiped out” the art studio and event space at 5200 Delmar Boulevard. At one point the water was high enough to bust through a front door, said Brian Kreitner, who does construction work there.

Third Degree said it would be closed until further notice.

The studio was co-founded in 2002 by glass-blowing artist Doug Auer and St. Louis entrepreneur Jim McKelvey, co-founder of San Francisco-based mobile payment company Square. With the help of other glass artists, the two renovated a 1930s-era car dealership into an 8,000-square-foot maker space and glass blowing educational center. It also became a popular destination for weddings and other events.

The water started rushing in around 3 p.m. on Thursday, said events director Jessica Labozzetta, as heavy rains hit the region’s central corridor.

Waves of water were rolling down Delmar, said digital marketing specialist Kayla Colwell.

“I never understood the meaning of flash flooding,” she said later. “Now I get what they’re saying.”

Hundreds of pieces of glass artwork on plywood pedestals came crashing down, Labozzetta said.

By 3:30, 2 to 3 feet of water had filled the studio, and firefighters told the half-dozen workers still inside to evacuate. Some fled across Delmar; a fire truck picked them up midway.

But, within a couple of hours, water had receded and workers trickled back to the scene.

It wasn’t as bad as they first thought, Labozzetta said.

The studio has not yet decided when it can reopen, but she hopes it’s sooner rather than later.

She said they’d save all the broken glass to turn into something new.

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