Torrential rainfall made it a Memorial Day to remember in Minot this year, especially for the men and women of Magic City Implement, who quickly learned their fiercest competitors are also some of their best friends.
Travis Zablotney, store manager of the Case IH and New Holland agriculture equipment dealer, said the flooding in the Apple Grove area where the business is located east of Minot on U.S. Highway 2 must have began the evening of Monday, May 30, during the rainstorm because by early Tuesday morning things were looking grim.
"As far as our facility goes, that water started rushing in (Monday) night, we know that for a fact because of what happened back at Apple Grove," Zablotney said. "The confluence of the Puppy Dog and Larson 1 and 2 coulees out down there by Eastside Estates, it backflowed and pushed up."
Dan Feldner/MDN • Several combine headers are partially submerged in water June 8 at Magic City Implement. While the dealership got much of its equipment to drier ground before flood waters overtook the area, some equipment remained.
An employee at the scene called Zablotney at 7 a.m. Tuesday to tell him water was starting to come into the warehouse building, so he drove there immediately and started getting to work saving as much equipment as he could.
"We got our troops together that were here and started picking stuff up off the floors and getting parts out of there," Zablotney said. "So we were actually able to pretty well get anything of any value that was on the floor out of there before it got too crazy. All along the water's continuing to come up."
Their next mission was to move all the large machinery on the lot to drier ground. As more employees started coming in they were moving equipment by 8 a.m. Word of Magic City Implement's predicament had evidently gotten around because Zablotney had a wave of calls from concerned dealers in the area wanting to help.
"I had calls from Gooseneck (Implement), Butler (Machinery Co.) and Titan (Machinery). They all sent people down here to help us. I had customers that would come in," Zablotney said. "I had volunteers, acquaintances, friends that were here helping move and fish out equipment that was already in deeper than it should have been."
Zablotney said they had a majority of the equipment moved out by noon, and continued to pull pieces out of the water throughout the afternoon. There obviously wasn't much room to store all that equipment on site, so much of it was taken to Gooseneck Implement and Kemper Construction Co., who both volunteered space until Magic City Implement could get its lost acreage back from the water.
"They called us and asked how they could help," Zablotney said. "I've had a lot of calls, too, from many other companies offering sites to store equipment and so on and so forth. We're OK right now, but I've had just a tremendous outpouring of people saying if we can do anything for you let us know. Which has been great. We've heard a lot about our community and how we've done a good job of banding together and I can definitely tell you that that is what we experienced."
"I think it's a testimony to the type of businesses that we all are in this community, because I don't think you'd find that everywhere," he added "We respect each other, put it that way. There's a respect for each other."
As the water kept pouring in, it was decided to build a system of dikes to protect some of the property that hadn't yet been flooded. Sundre Sand & Gravel and Keller Paving & Landscaping got to work hauling dirt and building the dike. Magic City Implement also used its own Payloader to help get the dike up before the water got too high.
"That activity went on throughout the day and we finally finished up about 2 a.m. that night, got it stitched up, closed up tight," Zablotney said. "Didn't experience any water in our main building, thank goodness. We were able to completely protect it."
Because they didn't know if the dike would be built in time, or even if it would be needed at all, Zablotney said they also spent quite a bit of time getting computer equipment and everything else of value as far off the floor as possible. It turns out water never made it to the main building, but the 5-foot-high dike was in place just in case.
By Thursday they were open for business again and looking to get the water back where it came from.
"The reality is that the river's too high for the water to go back through a culvert that would go into the river normally," Zablotney said. "We're going to have to pump all this water."
Doing some quick calculations, Zablotney estimated there was probably around 250 million gallons of water that needed to be pumped back into the river. At the time he had three pumps pushing 20,000 gallons per minute day and night, which would take about 10 days to clear out the water. He said he would get more pumps to help, but the job is still huge.
Once the water is gone and all the machinery is returned to the lot, Zablotney will have another big task ahead of him, namely inspecting all the equipment that spent any amount of time in the water. Sensitive equipment with electronics, such as combines, was moved first, while less sensitive things like combine headers were dealt with later. They weren't able to move all the equipment out of the water, but the pieces left there will be fine until they can eventually get them out, Zablotney said.
While much of the equipment only spent a few hours at most in the water before being pulled, Zablotney said they will go over every part on every piece of machinery that might have been affected by the water to either confirm it's still good or replace it if it isn't.
"I don't have anything that's a total loss. There won't even be a lot of significant rebuilding as far as that goes," Zablotney said. "There isn't anything out there that we can't restore. It will actually be better than what it was before the rain because now it will have all new components that might be sensitive to water."
He also mentioned they will look at offering an extended warranty on certain pieces of equipment, when applicable.
Zablotney can't reiterate how appreciative he is of all the people and businesses who came to his aid when he needed it most. He said he's gotten to know many new people he wouldn't have otherwise met were it not for the flood, so there was something positive that came out of the whole ordeal.
"The one thing that I want people to know first and foremost, we had an outstanding group of volunteers. I mean I had more people coming at me than I could direct efficiently," he said. "With the types of activities we had to do, moving equipment, not everybody is capable of doing some of that, but we had ample volunteers. And we were appreciative of that, or things could have been a lot worse."