SunPrairie rising from flood

FARGO, N.D. -- SunPrairie Grain of Minot, N.D., started dumping some grain in its main facility Aug. 16 and 17, and General Manager Brad Haugeberg says the company is struggling toward normalcy.

FARGO, N.D. -- SunPrairie Grain of Minot, N.D., started dumping some grain in its main facility Aug. 16 and 17, and General Manager Brad Haugeberg says the company is struggling toward normalcy.

"We're at 90 percent and -- give us another week or two -- we'll be where customers don't know the difference as we get our communications and electrical systems fully restored," Haugeberg said Aug. 18.

Working with wheat

The main facility holds about 2.5 million bushels and was the primary hit from the Souris (Mouse) River flooding. Operational personnel are working in the main facility while others still are camped in the company's secondary facility, which once was a Cargill elevator.

"We're dumping winter wheat," Haugeberg says. "We've got one of the dryers running and we're waiting on parts for a couple of the others. I don't have phone or Internet yet; most of the town doesn't down in the valley.


"Some of the (pit) gates have to be operated normally because we're still waiting for some controls to show up," Haugeberg says. "We're back (electrically) energized and able to put grain into the silo. We're just having to do some things the old-fashioned way."

This year's crop will be short -- probably 30 percent of normal acreage was planted because of excessive moisture and cold.

"The next biggest concern, obviously, is that this is going to be a difficult year for agriculture out year," Haugeberg says. "The flood was another chink in the armor."

Winter wheat yields were running 50 bushels per acre instead of the 60 bushels farmers have been used to in recent years. Much of that has to be cleaned up to go back into the field for seed. Haugeberg says the company's seed plant, which also was damaged in the flood, should be up and running in a week or two. The company had to get the main plant operating first, because the two work together.

Still adjusting

Haugeberg says spirits still are mixed.

"I think everybody's anxious to get back home, back to their offices, home to their homes," he says. "Everybody's hungry for some normalcy, but there's a little anxiety."

A dozen elevator employees, including Haugeberg himself, still are displaced from their homes. Two are living in Federal Emergency Management Agency homes that have just arrived. Others are waiting for FEMA homes. Others are living in campers or with family friends.


"As the days get shorter, the nights get colder, the campers don't work," Haugeberg says. "I think most are going to end up in a FEMA home for the winter. They're 12-by 36-feet -- a glorified camper."

Haugeberg says he's heard city officials express concerns about how well the FEMA accommodations are suited to the harsh north-central North Dakota winters. He says some of the utilities to damaged homes have been provided with above-ground pipes for water, which could be heat-taped. He says it's unclear whether enough heat tape exists to prevent freezing.

Other ag institutions in Minot:

- Northern Livestock Auction: The auction lost a month's worth of activity, but only two sales because sales are every other week in the summer. Facilities weren't affected, but access was reduced until some of the access roads were restored in late July, says Marlyn Hagen, manager. The cattle market has been handling good numbers, partly because of good prices. Some producers have had a tough hay situation because of poor access to some hay land, he says.

- Magic City Implement and Oil Co.: "Are you ready to roll for the season ahead? We are," says the recording at the Case-IH dealership operated by the Zablotney family. The company is still operating out of three locations, says Travis Zablotney, general manager.

The company fought the flood, moved equipment and other infrastructure out of its headquarters.

"We're trying to take care of customers; that's a first priority," Zablotney says. "We still have cleaning to do, all the aftermath effects to clean up. We're getting by."

About five employees are displaced from the flood.


"A couple aren't sure what they're doing yet," he says.

New inventory has moved to a construction lot in a different part of town for the time being.

"First of October, I hope, everything is back," Zablotney says.

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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