Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published July 11, 2011, 05:50 AM

Businesses pick up pieces amid flooding

FARGO, N.D. — As the Minot, N.D., area continues to battle flooding and deal with its aftermath on the Souris River, agriculture has its own battle.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — As the Minot, N.D., area continues to battle flooding and deal with its aftermath on the Souris River, agriculture has its own battle. Here are a few brief updates from business people who were able to take the time to describe their situation:

Flooding since May

“I think it’ll be another 60 or 90 days before we get some sense of normalcy,” says Travis Zablotney, general manager of Magic City Implement and Oil Co. at the intersection of U.S. Highways 2 and 52. Zablotney, his mother and sister own the business. It’s the largest Case IH and New Holland dealer in the region.

“Essentially, we had to move every piece of equipment we own to various locations — scattered across the country is what it feels like,” Zablotney says. “It’s unsettling, uncomfortable. It’s chaotic, to say the least.”

Zablotney says he feels like he’s been fighting since June 1, or earlier. Just after Memorial Day, the dealership’s main equipment was flooded by a confluence of minor streams whose contents were blocked from getting to the river.

The historic Souris River flooding was another issue. The implement dealership moved inventory, files and computers to high ground. They built an 11-foot dike around their building and managed to keep it dry — one of the few commercial entities that’s succeeded in keeping a building dry.

As the floodwaters slowly have receded, he’s worked at staying positive, keeping employees productive. His parents are no longer a couple, but both have been helpful. His father offered the use of a new farm shop for some of the implement dealership’s work. His mother’s home is the temporary quarters for office staff.

Of 35 employees, four either have had homes flooded or inaccessible because of water. Some are living in campers.

“The flood itself is a significant event, but the real eye-opener, the real trauma is going to start when the people start actually trying to go back and figure out the rebuilding process. Some will find out they can’t go back, period. Others will see the reality of having to gut it and start from scratch.”

Looking for the 15th

Northern Livestock Auction in Minot has had to forego two sales this summer, says Marlyn Hagen, manager of the facility, which is just north of the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

“We’re not flooded, but we have no telephones, no computers,” Hagen said July 7. “It’s a devil of a time.”

But he says the company expects to be up and running with a sale and its infrastructure July 15.

One of the hassles is water. Northern Livestock is on city water, Hagen says. Water use is being curtailed because there are water breaks under the floodwaters. Three of the company’s primary employees have busied themselves with cleaning pens in anticipation of sales resuming.

The company’s last sale was about three weeks earlier, before the flood, and that brought in about 1,300 cattle. He thinks there might be 1,500 animals July 15.

Logistics have been difficult, as moving from north to south Minot has taken 2½ to 3½ hours to get from north to south on the U.S. Highway 83 bypass. Broadway, the street name for Highway 83 through the middle of town, is open only one way during the daytime.

Hauling water

Kevin Schulz, manager of Minot Milling, says his company is facing inconveniences.

Minot Milling makes semolina and white flour for shipment “all over the place,” but much to the East Coast and West Coast and to customers in the South.

The company’s semolina mill has 8,800 per hundredweight per day in capacity, and two flour mills are rated at 3,000 per hundredweight per 24-hour period.

The flood meant Burlington Northern shipments to the west have had to be detoured and took longer to reach destinations.

“Our only problem still is that we’re having to haul water in for processing,” Schulz says. The company needs about 4,000 to 5,000 gallons a day for processing, and the source is about 30 miles out.

City officials still haven’t said when the water treatment plant will be available again.

“They don’t know,” Schulz says. “We’re waiting for the water to subside some.”

His company has three employees who had to be evacuated from homes because of flooding.

A farmer’s perspective

Norma Effertz lives with her husband Jerry, 20 miles south of Minot along U.S. Highway 52. They operate Effertz Black Butte Acres but have rented out the farmland. Jerry was busy haying when Agweek called, but Norma says the flood’s effects are lingering.

The farmers who rent the Effertz land have been able to plant only about 10 percent of their intended crops this year.

“Some of it was too wet; some the roads were impassable. We still have county roads with water on them, where you could probably only drive through with a four-wheel-drive pickup.”

Still, some of the crops that were planted are perking up. Prevented planting acres largely have been sprayed. Some of the corn in the area appears to be “exploding” with growth, now with the warmer weather stepping in. Some of the winter wheat looks gorgeous, she says.

Tags: