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Superior hospitality shines during flooding

Captain Lindzi Campbell with the Superior Fire Department walks out of the Super 8 in Superior June 17. Engine 3 and its crew of three were provided free rooms to stay in overnight while stationed in the Allouez and Itasca areas while flooding closed East Second Street. (Photo courtesy of Superior Fire Department)

Maria Lockwood

Super 8 paid it forward Sunday night by offering a pair of rooms to emergency personnel stationed in the Allouez and Itasca neighborhoods of Superior after Nemadji River flooding closed East Second Street.

“We’re glad to do it because they serve us,” said Super 8 General Manager Mary Thoorsell. “They take care of our needs. They’re there for our emergencies. It’s the least we can do.”

Superior Fire Capt. Lindzi Campbell was one of three firefighters assigned to the area with Engine 3 to cover any calls that came in. She remembers grabbing her pillow, throwing a couple things in the fire truck and driving to the Holiday Station near the edge of town at about 9 p.m. Sunday. The westbound side of East Second Street was already closed, she said. Half an hour after they crossed the stretch of highway, the eastbound side was closed.

It’s not uncommon to sit in a fire truck on standby for a few hours, Campbell said, but not overnight.

“It would have made for a long night sitting up in the truck,” she said.

Campbell walked to the nearby Super 8 and asked if they could possibly rest there. In addition to letting the firefighters relax in the lobby, the Super 8 provided two rooms for them at no charge.

“They certainly didn’t have to do this,” Campbell said, but it was appreciated. “They took a kind of stressful situation and took some off our plate.”

A Gold Cross Ambulance crew stationed in the area also stopped in for coffee and a chance to stretch their legs at Super 8, although they declined the offer of a room.

Campbell was more impressed when she learned this isn’t the first time Super 8 has opened its doors to firefighters. During the benzene spill of 1992, the business opened its buffet and lobby to firefighters staged in the area as a benzene cloud moved down the Nemadji River, cutting the Allouez and Itasca neighborhoods off from the rest of the city.

Battalion Chief Steve Edwards had just been promoted to driver. He remembers a Super 8 employee walking out to the fire engine and inviting them in. The business kept its continental breakfast open and provided coffee, water and bathroom facilities to the firefighters during the day.

“They were prepared to give us rooms, but we didn’t need them,” Edwards said. “When extraordinary things like that come up, we’re always thankful.”

Both Edwards and Campbell pointed to the recent Husky Energy refinery fire, and how both residents and businesses stepped up to help.

“It really is a great community we live in,” Edwards said.

Thoorsell said Super 8 has a different owner now than it did in 1992, but in both cases offering hospitality to emergency personnel was an easy decision to make.

“There’s no reason not to do it,” she said. “It gave them somewhere to have some respite for a while.”

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