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Down in the Flood

By Mark S. Kuhar

“Well it’s sugar for sugar and salt for salt, if you go down in the flood it’s gonna be your fault.” – Bob Dylan

Late spring and early summer brought with it massive flooding that threatened towns all over the United States, not to mention many aggregate operations. Several communities within Knife River Corp.’s business territories – central North Dakota and western Iowa – went into crisis management mode to hold back the rising Missouri River waters. Hundreds of Knife River employees from seven states came together to save homes, businesses and whole neighborhoods.

In Bismarck and Mandan, N.D., waters released from the upstream Garrison Dam increased daily for weeks. Knife River hauled materials to construct massive clay dikes and provide sand for thousands of volunteers who spent day and night filling sand bags. Employees from Knife River divisions in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, eastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota also converged on communities to operate equipment around the clock.

“It was a very tragic time for North Dakota and Iowa as families were being evacuated and homes abandoned,” said Knife River President and CEO Bill Schneider. “However, the spirit and strength of the residents in these areas was tremendous. To see strangers becoming friends over sandbagging efforts was a common occurrence. Knife River employees were a huge part of this massive work and I am proud of their efforts and proud to call them co-workers.”

Downstream in Sioux City, Iowa, employees at Knife River-Midwest Division and Knife River’s Energy Services Division Jebro Inc. worked around the clock to surround Jebro’s facilities, which are directly on the banks of the Missouri River. In addition, Midwest Division employees from Iowa and South Dakota hauled clay and sand for neighborhoods in immediate danger of flooding.

Meanwhile, a quarry at a cement plant owned by Buzzi Unicem, Cape Girardeau, Mo., filled with an estimated three billion gallons of water. Plant Manager Steve Leus told the local media that the quarry took on the most water he or anyone else has ever seen.

Anticipating rising water, workers moved a lot of equipment and limestone reserves to higher ground. Outside of the quarry, crews tried to keep more water from LaCroix Creek from flowing in. Leus called it a “Band-Aid fix,” saying something permanent will have to be done in the future.

In Indiana, Mulzer Crushed Stone Inc. donated more than 6,000 tons of free sand for sand bags to the public, emergency management agencies, and local road and highway authorities throughout its operating area in Vanderburgh, Posey, Gibson, Warrick, Spencer, Perry and Dubois counties. The majority of the free sand was used in Posey, Vanderburgh and Dubois counties, although residents living in all operating areas were affected by the catastrophic floods.

Mulzer’s Cape Sandy Quarry, located on the Ohio River near Leavenworth, Ind., took a major hit from the river and rain storms. The Mulzer Crushed Stone yard in Rockport, Ind., also located on the Ohio River, was also impacted.