Blame it on Friday the 13th.
That was the sentiment of one Cartersville, Georgia, man Friday outside the Tennessee Aquarium, where people were turned away in the wake of a water line break that paralyzed much of downtown Chattanooga.
Many restaurants were closed. Major employers such as Unum and BlueCross BlueShield shut their offices. Hotels were scrambling to keep and service patrons. Warehouse Row was dark.
Keith Sanford, chairman of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he'd never seen such a sustained widespread water outage in the downtown area in his nearly 40 years in the city.
He said restaurants, hotels and other entities will take a financial hit. Sanford guessed that the outage could impact as many as 100 eateries and 30 hotels.
"It could have a significant economic impact," said the CVB chairman who also heads the aquarium, which lost some animals when its chillers went down. "We have backup for electricity backup for internet. It's hard to have backup for water."
The Westin hotel on Pine Street was trying to relocate guests and not taking any more reservations on Friday afternoon.
"We do anticipate running out" of water, said Sarah Carr. She said the lack of water also affects air-conditioning. Water in the pipes is used to cool the building.
"Hopefully, Saturday afternoon it will be fixed and we'll take reservations at that point," Carr said.
At the Read House, guests in the manor portion of the historic hotel had to be moved to another part due to low water pressure, said Pekesha Thomas on Friday afternoon.
"The water pressure was not forceful enough to keep it open," she said. "The other part is OK. We moved people around."
At the Residence Inn on Chestnut Street, it was serving bottled water and bringing in the liquid by the gallon to help service the hotel, said Jermin Morris.
The hotel was letting patrons who called about rooms know about the water issue, he said.
"We've had guests [call and are] asking questions," Morris said.
R.J. Dappen, of Cartersville, said Friday morning that he and his family had driven up specifically to visit the aquarium and spend a half day in the city.
Likely, he said, they would go to Rock City and then drive back to Cartersville.
"This is Friday the 13th. There is a full moon tonight," quipped Dappen.
Russell Kman of Olney, Illinois, was visiting Chattanooga — the first time he'd been to the city in 30 years — and also had planned to check out the aquarium.
Kman said his Lookout Valley hotel didn't have water, and he was unsure what he planned to do.
"We'll see what happens," he said. "There's nothing anybody can do anything about it."
While most restaurants were closed, some central city eateries were open on Friday. Local officials said the water outage wasn't uniform, with one street having water and another not having it.
Tra Fisher of the Blue Plate on Chestnut Street said Friday morning that water was "coming in just as usual."
At the same time, he said, it didn't seem like a Friday but rather a casual Sunday morning.
"It definitely has that feel today," he said.
Maria Russell at Puckett's on Market Street said the eatery, too, had water on Friday morning.
"Business has been good," she said. "I guess we've been lucky."
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department said in a statement that restaurants in the affected area must close immediately if running water under pressure is not available.
Without sufficient water pressure, some restaurant cleaning and hygienic practices may be compromised, according to the department.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Opera has rescheduled its Mozart Night from this weekend to Sept. 27 because of the downtown water issue.
Also affected by the outage was North Chattanooga, Red Bank, Brown's Ferry, Tiftonia, and Lookout Valley, officials said.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.