A Picture-Perfect Response

Floods February 08, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Lesson Index

A Picture Perfect Response

The following case studies recount picture-perfect responses by ag retail managers threatened by floods. These real-life examples reinforce the importance of knowing the facility, having important contacts, understanding what to protect, and having well-coordinated actions.

Flood Case One

Our plant is located between two rivers and both levees were threatened by rising water. We’ve been in the position of water threatening us before, but nothing happened or got to the point that we thought we needed to do something.

As the water began to rise more and more during the last flood, we became concerned. We called our employees and put them on alert that a flood was possible. We had a levee break in 1943 and in 1959, and had a general idea of what could happen. Some of our older customers gave us this information. I also established a pretty direct line with the levee commissioners to know when something might happen or what the odds were that something would happen.

It was about 1 a.m. when we were notified that both levees broke. I told my right-hand man to meet me at the plant. When we got there, we called two other employees and got them in here to deal with the threat of flooding.

We had an idea of what we would do. The guys who work for me have been here for quite some time, so we didn’t have anything written down. But we verbally made a plan and knew what we were going to do and who we were going to call.

The chemicals were our first focus — not only for the loss of money, but also for liability reasons. I had already contacted our distributors to line up trailers to haul our chemicals out, and I’ d been in touch with our satellite plants to help get the fertilizer and equipment out. All parties were on standby. We got hold of the distributors about 3 o’clock in the morning to send trucks down to pick up chemicals. It took a shade less than two hours for the trucks to get here. While we were waiting, we stacked and shrink-wrapped the packaged chemicals on pallets. We had time to stack, wrap, and count everything so that when the trucks arrived, all I had to do was to load the trucks. It took probably 30 minutes to load the trucks once they arrived.

One employee pumped chemicals into mini-bulks to empty the storage tanks. That took about two hours, at most. We had approximately 4,000 gallons of pesticides in storage. We put them on a flat bed trailer and hauled them to one of our other facilities. Another employee and his dad (who also is a customer of ours) came in and started moving out the rolling equipment: anhydrous tanks, Rogators, Terragators, fertilizer buggies. We already had a plan to take the equipment to an area three or four miles from the facility. As the drivers hauled away the rolling gear, they just made trips back and forth with their pickups. They drove the equipment to the temporary storage area and then an employee’s wife picked up the drivers and brought them back to pick up more equipment.

The fourth member of our team loaded out fertilizer. He ran fertilizer through the hopper into tender trucks that came from our satellite plants. Fortunately, when the flood struck, our inventory was low because it was getting late in the season. We probably had a couple hundred tons of fertilizer.

It took between three and four hours to get the fertilizer loaded onto the trucks. While all this was going on, we also built a limestone dike around our 1,000-gallon fuel tank and propane tank. We did not do anything around the buildings.

We also have an anhydrous storage tank. It’s set three feet off the ground and our lot was built up a foot. Based on the worst flood in history in 1943, we were pretty certain the water would not go that high. So we were not too worried about the anhydrous tank.

We did not do anything with our 28% storage tanks. They are surrounded by a 3-foot-tall dike, and the tanks are cabled down. The tanks had product in them, but the water would have to go over the dike to get to them. And again, based on what we knew from the 1943 floods, there was really no fear of anything happening there. All members of the team finished up about the same time. When I left that morning, I disconnected the computer system and loaded it into my truck. I took the fax machine, copy machine, and all the office equipment. I was glad I had caught up with all of the paperwork before I disconnected the system. I shut the main breakers off at the power pole for the facility before I left.

By the time everyone got there, we started moving everything at roughly at 2 o’clock in the morning, and we were out by 8 o’clock. By 10 o’clock, the water was coming up the road and we were no longer able to reach the facility. The only way to get here was with a boat. It was virtually three weeks before we were able to get back and open the place back up. It took a couple of days to bring everything back to the plant. Honestly, I really can’t see anything we would have changed. Things just went so smoothly and without a hitch.

This example was taken from the Purdue Extension publication: Plan Today for Tomorrow's Flood.





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