Repairs, Improvements To Levee System Vital To Future Of AgriVision's Pacific Junction Store

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Mills County Business Was Displaced By Missouri River Flooding

By Joe Foreman, Editor

Like many owners of businesses damaged and displaced by Missouri River flooding in March,  the management team at AgriVision Equipment Group is taking a wait and see approach before making  a decision on reopening its Pacific Junction store along the 190th Street business corridor in western Mills County.


“We don’t know the status of what’s going to happen with the P.J. store,” Mark Ford, AgriVision Director of Organizational Development said Friday. “We’re not going to do anything serious out at the interchange until we know that we have a levee and we’re protected.”

Ford said there is currently too much uncertainty surrounding Missouri River levee repairs for AgriVision to make a commitment to reopen its Pacific Junction location. He’s heard the projections that it could take up to two or three years just to bring the levees back to where they were before the March flooding. That scenario, he said, is unacceptable.

“Do we want to stay in Mills County? Absolutely,” he said. “If we can be assured that the levees are going to be put back and be put back soon. If it’s going to be two years, that’s too long to wait.

“A lot depends on what happens with the levees. We need to strengthen those levees right now.”

Ford, who was recently appointed to the state’s Flood Advisory Board by Gov. Kim Reynolds, said the Missouri River levees in western Iowa need to be built stronger and taller than ever before. He’s optimistic that can happen because of the attention the flooding event has received nationally and the collaborative effort taking place between elected officials in upper plains states along the Missouri River valley.

“The governors from Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas are working together,” Ford said. “They’ve all made it clear – this has to be the last time this type of flood event happens. This can’t be a repeated pattern.”

Ford said he’s encouraged by the efforts of Gov. Reynolds and western Iowa’s elected leaders in Des Moines.

“I’ve also been impressed by our entire Washington crew. Representative (Cindy) Axne, she’s all over it. Sen. (Charles) Grassley, he’s a pit bull - you know he’s not going to let go of this and neither is Sen. (Joni) Ernst.”

The reopening of Interstate 29 and other major highways damaged during the flooding is a positive development, but Ford points out that until the levees are brought up to necessary standards, the risk for additional flooding will continue to exist. As long as the flood threat is there, Ford said displaced businesses like AgriVision will be reluctant to rebuild and reopen, harming the viability of small communities like Pacific Junction, Hamburg and even Glenwood.

AgriVision’s Pacific Junction and Hamburg stores were both evacuated and flooded when the Missouri River went on its rampage in March. Although most of the company’s large farm equipment was moved off site in the days and hours before the flood waters rushed in, the Pacific Junction store sustained substantial damage and loss of inventory.

“Ironically, we were told at the time, when there was potential for water in P.J., it could get as bad as eight inches to maybe a foot of water in the store,” Ford said. “Little did we know it would be eight or nine feet of water.”

The Pacific Junction store had 40 employees, most who have been reassigned to other AgriVision  locations throughout western Iowa and eastern Nebraska, including Red Oak and Louisville, Neb.

Now two months since the Pacific Junction and Hamburg stores were forced to close, AgriVision is continuing to look for alternative ways to serve its customer bases in Mills and Fremont counties. In addition to implementing a parts delivery service for patrons who don’t have a local store to come to, the company is in the process opening a “temporary long-term” retail location in the former Hometown Shopko store in Glenwood. Small John Deere tractors, lawn equipment, parts and other merchandise will be sold from inside the store and the shopping plaza parking lot.

“We’re trying to be optimistic about all this,” Ford said. “When you think about agriculture, you think about the people who count on the weather and count on the land. You have to believe every year it’s going to be decent and you’re going to get a good crop. That’s the mantra we live by, we’re optimistic. We plan to be here for the long haul, but we also have to be realistic and do what makes sense.”