Child Care Providers Appreciation & Training Seminar
Saturday, March 2, 2013
9:00 a.m. Registration
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Seminar
Between July and December 2012, a total of $364,010 was granted to 68 small businesses and nonprofits located in Aitkin, Carlton, St. Louis, and Douglas Counties. This special funding pool, the Business Flood Recovery Fund, was established immediately following the June 2012 flood that created catastrophic damage to infrastructure, public parks, homes, and businesses. These grants were intended to provide fast, easy-to-access boosts to small businesses allowing them to make critical building and site repairs and/or replace tangible assets.
The generosity of the following funding partners made the Fund possible: AgStar Financial Services • Barr Engineering • Blandin Foundation • Granite Equity Partners • Great River Energy • Hanft Fride Law Firm • Involta • Maurices • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development • Minnesota Power Foundation • Northwest Area Foundation • Otto Bremer Foundation • The McKnight Foundation
Below are brief stories chronicling the experiences of six Business Flood Recovery Fund grantees that help to showcase the impact this initiative was able to make.
When Dave Lund stepped into Lakeside Traders the morning of June 21st, he was greeted not by customers but by 18 inches of dirty water. Sections of carpet were afloat along with the inventory. Knick-knacks began drifting out the door with the receding waters. The epic rainfall of June 20th left Lund’s Moose Lake antiques and gift shop, like hundreds of other businesses and families, faced with a staggering mess.
Lund and his wife, Janis, got right to work. With several friends pitching in on clean-up duty, they pulled out carpeting, fixtures, computers, and inventory that were beyond help. The crew also removed items such as greeting cards that survived the initial soaking but were subject to post-flood damage due to high humidity in the building.
“June is our biggest month to receive inventory, so this happened at a tough time,” said Lund.
In the near term, Lakeside Traders was able to cover formerly carpeted floors with a coat of epoxy, purchase new computers, and start rebuilding the business. Lund began reopening his 5,000 square foot retail space, section-by-section, two weeks after the fateful flood.
“The fact that we were reopening by July 5th and could recover much of the summer season is going to help Lakeside Traders vendors get back on our feet,” said Lund.
If you witnessed the devastation the June flooding had on roads and buildings, you can only imagine the impact on farmers who rely on the land for their livelihood. Aitkin County, hard hit by flooding, is home to many farmers whose fields, pastures, and livestock were compromised. Among the farms that received grant funds were Jeff and Deb Scharrer’s beef cattle operation.
Jeff and Deb used the grant money not to replace soggy sheetrock or washed-out pavement but instead to pay for tractor fuel to plow over the dead vegetation, as well as purchase native mix pasture seeds, oats to harvest for feed, and fertilizer. Since the quality of the hay they were able to harvest last year was inadequate, they bought protein supplement to help keep their cattle in healthy condition.
“The grant will help us to plant all of the (formerly flooded) acreage at one time as opposed to small sections of it as we could afford it,” explained Jeff.
Jeff’s brother, Jerry, is another Aitkin cattle farmer. Jerry and his wife, Therese, also applied Business Flood Recovery dollars to plow, disc, and drag the land to prepare for re-seeding with the goal of returning their fields and pastures to pre-flood conditions.
“This will enable our farm to get back to normal that much quicker. We look forward to good weather this coming spring to complete the planting,” said Jerry.
Whole Foods Co-op (WFC) is a fixture in Duluth. The co-op was established in 1970 and today has over 7,000 owners. Along with non-owner customers, the store welcomes roughly 1,200 shoppers per day and employs 105 workers.
Whole Foods’ location – Duluth’s East Hillside – was hit not only by the 24-hour rainstorm but blocks worth of runoff from the hillside above. The building itself was spared, but the customer parking lot was not so lucky. A retaining wall under construction along 7th Avenue buckled under the rush of water down the street. And, the Brewery Creek culvert under the center of the lot burst beneath the alley retaining wall under the pressure of the torrent of water and debris. Flood waters created a gigantic crater about 50 feet across and 80 feet into the customer parking lot.
WFC's flood insurance eventually covered costs of $60,000 to rebuild the retaining wall, which was physically attached to the store, but insurance did not cover the over $300,000 needed to repair the Brewery Creek culvert and parking lot. The $5,000 grant awarded through the Business Flood Recovery Fund went toward the extensive clean-up, emergency fencing, and repairs to the outside staircase between the parking lot and the alley. Although the funding was a drop in the proverbial bucket, Whole Foods Co-op general manager, Sharon Murphy, was appreciative all the same.
"Receiving support from the Northland Foundation has been an emotional as well as financial benefit for all of us at WFC. The speed with which we received the grant was amazing, and it was nice to know that someone cared about what we and the community went through," said Murphy.
Typical of northeastern Minnesota’s independent, can-do attitude, Marcie Stolberg originally asked only for help to repair a washed-out campground road so that she could re-open Knife Island Campground and from there, she said, self-fund additional repairs as revenue allowed. In the end, extensive immediate needs were revealed as the waters slowly receded.
The campground, which has been in business for the past 14 years, is located near a historic slate quarry site on the banks of the St. Louis River – perfect for kayaking, but not so terrific in a flood. The ravages of nature were compounded by a dam that was breeched upriver. The torrent carved out roads, took out the electrical and water supply, flooded buildings, and left a mess behind.
Repairing the “quarry road” access in the campground was top of the list, so stranded campers could get out and work crews could get in. Other projects that needed immediate attention included hiring a long-reach backhoe to remove refuse that had washed downstream, creating a safety liability.
Adding to the tally, Knife Island required 16 dump truck loads of clay to fill sinkholes in the handicap-accessible campsites, well and pump repairs, Marcie’s own flooded home, and a long list of additional damage. With estimated damages of $300,000 the business still has a long way to go, yet Stolberg is happy about the help she received.
“Undoubtedly without your grant we would not have been able to re-open this season at all. Thank you, Northland,” stated a grateful Stolberg.
Just west of the entrance to North Country Lawncare and Landscaping in Mahtowa, Minnesota, County Road 4 was awash – literally. Entire sections of blacktop collapsed under the rushing water. Days later, portions of the road and a wide expanse of North Country’s driveway, parking area, and land surrounding their large main building remained engulfed.
The massive rainstorm of June 19 and 20, 2012 washed away much of the rural Carlton County property on which Glenn and Renee Gaffney’s small business stands. Saturated earth effectively “sunk” inside and outside their storage buildings leaving gaps along the perimeter. The Gaffneys needed to act in order to prevent additional losses but, like most people in the region, their insurance did not cover flooding.
“Thanks to the Northland Foundation, we were able to replace a lot of the ground that eroded. Had we not been able to replace the dirt to reinforce our foundation, future damage would have been inevitable,” said Glenn Gaffney.
The Gaffneys paid it forward by hiring a fellow local business, DeCaigny Excavating, to lay down $5,000 of Class 5 gravel and fill.
“We still have a lot of dirt to replace, but the immediate danger has been taken care of,” said Renee.
The nonprofit Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse, Inc. (CASDA) offers support services and emergency shelter to victims of domestic and sexual violence as well as child abuse victims from around the region. In June 2012, however, CASDA had to deal with an emergency of its own.
The lower level of the facility suffered damage to flooring and walls, as well as the elevator. These damages exceeded CASDA’s $30,000 insurance cap, and like many nonprofits they did not have enough reserve funds to cover the remaining $14,000 in repairs themselves. In order to maintain safety, the wet sheetrock and flooring needed to be removed as soon as possible to prevent mold.
The nonprofit agency is located in Superior, Wisconsin, just across the St. Louis River from Duluth. Although just as much rain fell in Superior as northeastern Minnesota, fewer sources of aid were available to Wisconsin businesses, nonprofits, and homeowners.
Within two weeks of applying, a $5,000 grant was approved to assist CASDA with clean-up and repair efforts.
“Northland’s grant helped us replace sheetrock to prevent mold from forming inside the walls, and we were grateful that we were able to get that help and get it quickly,” said CASDA’s Executive Director, Kelly Burger.