Joe McLaughlin: thinking of others - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Joe McLaughlin: thinking of others

by Sunny Layne


It's one thing to keep a brave face in the middle of a tragic loss, but it's another to help others at the same time.

Meet yet another flood hero named Joe McLaughlin, he's someone you should know.

"It was pretty much like filling the bathtub."

Even after days of sandbagging and spending a hundred gallons of gas trying to pump out his restaurant Old Chicago owner Joe McLaughlin says the water in Coralville came in six feet higher than he had planned. He lost all but nine pieces of equipment, including losing his all-important pizza oven. His insurance company quoted a $1.3 million loss. But his insurance covers only half that.

"Every one of these businesses, all that you've seen, that's someone's dream. That's what they do," McLaughlin said.

In the middle of enduring his own loss, McLaughlin managed to look out for his neighbors.

"It's one of the most generous things I've seen in a long time," restaurant manager Sean Pearl said.

Pearl says when McLaughlin realized time had run out to save Old Chicago, he quickly gave all remaining sandbags to Slugger's Restaurant down the street, essentially one of his main competitors.

"Hottest commodity in town. You know, it's kind of one of those pay-it-forward things. It was such a generous thing, you really want to be that sort of person and do it somewhere else," Pearl said.

McLaughlin said, "I don't know how much I helped because they got flooded as well. All we wanted to do would be of some assistance to them because when you know what you're doing isn't going to help you any, but maybe what you've done can help somebody else, than give it a whirl."

McLaughlin remains modest about his sharing, and manages to keep a sense of humor.

"We've been thinking about doing a little remodeling. This might be a little more substantial than my original thought. We were thinking of maybe painting the walls," he said with a laugh.

Karma has already started working in McLaughlin's favor, his niece in California just created a web site: "", hoping people will donate to save her uncle's dream. McLaughlin says, when you live by sound principles, things tend to work out.

"You just want to get back and try again. You know, just keep plugging away until your dream is realized better than before," he said.

McLaughlin says if things go his way, he hopes to re-open by the Iowa-Iowa State game September 13th. Good luck to Old Chicago, Sluggers, and all recovering businesses.

If you know someone who is making a difference or who has an interesting story to tell, we'd like to share his or her story too. Send your suggestion to Sunny Layne, or by calling 319-291-1257.  

Online Reporter: Sunny Layne

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