Two Businesses Impacted By 2019 Flooding Reopen
PACIFIC JUNCTION - Things are finally returning to “normal” near the Interstate 29/Highway 34 interchange in western Mills County for some of the businesses decimated by last year’s historic Missouri River flooding event.
Two of those businesses – the Lincoln Farm and Home BP store / fueling center and AgriVision Equipment – reopened in late July.
“We’re excited to be open,” Nate Lincoln said last week from his family’s 5,500 square-foot store. “It was a frustrating deal, but we waited a little while to make sure the levees were repaired the way that they should be.”
Lincoln Farm and Home’s new store had only been open for about 11 months when the Missouri River went on its rampage in March 2019.
“March 16, I believe, was the day the water started coming over the top of the levee. We closed then,” Lincoln said.
The flooding came with very little warning, meaning the Lincolns and other business owners in the area had little time to salvage merchandise and equipment.
“We got just a little bit of equipment out. Other than that, it was pretty much a complete loss,” Lincoln said. “We took everything off the floor and moved it to the top, thinking we might be able to save a little bit. Within 12 hours, we had three feet of water inside the store.”
The water level inside the store eventually rose to more than 7 feet. Lincoln said his family was actually “fortunate” because the store sits slightly higher than some neighboring properties. As soon as the flood waters receded, the Lincolns got into their building and had an electrician provide temporary power so that the air conditioning unit could be turned on to keep humidity out. Drywall and fixtures were immediately removed. The building was gutted and sprayed with a concentrated disinfectant cleaner “that killed everything” Lincoln said. There was no mold.
The Lincolns were left in limbo for the next several months, cleaning up debris, dealing with their insurance provider, talking to elected officials and monitoring levee and infrastructure repairs. A second round of flooding occurred in May.
Did they have reservations about going back, rebuilding and reopening?
“We definitely had the conversations right after it flooded,” Lincoln said. “We had a couple of meetings where we sat down and said we might be able to do this, but we’re just a small, family-owned business. It’s tough to rebuild after an event like that.”
As the rebuilding began to unfold, construction was delayed by the breakout of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Lincoln said he and his family are appreciative of the support they’ve gotten from community members over the past 17 months and since the store’s reopening on July 21.
“People have come out here to get chicken or get fueled up. The support’s been amazing,” he said. “We had so many people offer to come out, too, when we did get flooded. One day, high school kids came out to help pick up trash and clean up. Without all that, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
Lincoln said the customer-base at the store is “probably about a 50-50 mix” of local Mills County residents and travelers. He said they also attract clientele from other businesses in the area, including Loess Hills Harley Davidson, AgriVision, Siouxland Trailers, Raceway Park of the Midlands and a local pipeline company.
Customers will notice only a few subtle changes at the new store, including some tiling on the wall and new gas pumps with larger screens that are easier to read. The Lincolns are waiting to see how the COVID-19 situation shakes out before having any type of grand reopening activities.
Without hesitation, Bobby Loder can recite not only the date, but the exact time he knew AgriVision Equipment’s store and company headquarters building near Pacific Junction was going to get flooded.
March 15, 2019 – 4 a.m.
Loder, the Pacific Junction store manager, had been monitoring flood stages and flood level indicators at Omaha, Plattsmouth and downstream at Rockport, Mo.”“That morning, there was a huge spike and I made a call to our CEO,” he said. “We put a gameplan together. It’s now or never, so at 4 a.m., we pulled in as many staff resources as we could get. We moved all the machinery out in a matter of 6-7 hours and started prepping inside knowing water was going to reach the building. We were preparing for 2-4 feet water stage in the store. It reached 10-12 feet in many places.”
Employees were able to salvage about 90 percent of the store’s new equipment and 25 percent of the parts before the site had to be abandoned.
In the initial weeks of the flooding, AgriVision relocated employees from Pacific Junction and Hamburg, which was also directly impacted, to other AgriVision locations in southwest Iowa. Then in May, a second round of flooding put the Pacific Junction store under siege once again by flood waters as AgriVision management made a decision to open a temporary location in Glenwood at the former Shopko store.
“As time passed and we got moved into Shopko, we tried to maintain a business continuity, knowing we weren’t going to be back for awhile,” Loder said. “Early on, they (customers) were pretty receptive at first because they understood everything we were working through. It did wear on our customers because the further they were removed from seeing the day-to-day struggles we were dealing with, it became secondary to them, which was still very much in front of us every day.
“All and all, they (customers) were highly supportive. They understood we had to overcome hurdles that were just always there.”
AgriVision management continued to monitor levee repairs along the Missouri River while at the same time prepping the Pacific Junction and Hamburg buildings for reopenings. The Hamburg store was shuttered for nearly 10 months while the Pacific Junction displacement lasted nearly 17 months.
“You can understand what efficiency and productivity does when you’re spread thin like that,” Loder said.
During the “time out” at Pacific Junction, AgriVision operated a service facility in Louisville, Neb.
“In January 2020, we closed down our service off-site areas and moved all service back into Pacific Junction,” Loder said. “Parts and service came back in July.”
The Pacific Junction store reopened on July 20. The location has 35 employees in the store along with 20 staff members who work in the AgriVision headquarters offices.
Loder said AgriVision’s Pacific Junction staff is elated to be back home.
“The concept of being back together is an understatement as far as excitement is concerned,” he said.
In addition to ag equipment sales and service, the Pacific Junction store offers a wide assortment of parts and John Deere retail items.
The 2019 flooding event marked the second time in eight years the facility was closed because of rising water. Ongoing Missouri River flooding in the summer of 2011 also directly impacted the store, although the circumstances were different.
“Back in 2011, there was a pretty significant notification that was made. – a lot of prep work went into moving,” Loder said. “They basically moved the whole store out and they built berms around it. Water never truly got into the store, just up to the skirting. Hamburg was very similar.”