Floods Wreak Havoc in Midwest
Wenonah Canoe factory back up and running after two-day delay
By Shea Stephens
The canoe and kayak manufacturing business was a good one to be in last week as record floods descended upon three counties in Minnesota, including Winona, home to Wenonah Canoe and Current Designs, causing the area to be declared a national disaster area. While damage was extensive elsewhere, fortunately the Wenonah manufacturing facility escaped the brunt of the deluge.
“It is back to business as usual,” says the company’s sales and marketing manager Bill Cueper, adding that the floods delayed the production of canoes for two days in order to mobilize the workforce to clean up the factory. “It was just a skin coat of mud under the main offices. In fact, now the facility actually looks better than before.”
While they’re finally diminishing, the heavy rains began on August 18 and hit a boiling point at 2 a.m. on August 19 when county officials ordered a mandatory evacuation. According to Lynn Theurer, Public Information Officer for Winona County, Minnesota, within 24 hours the area got between 14 to 17 inches of rain. Many homes were destroyed and four people died while driving in flash flood areas. Winona residents stayed in shelters waiting out the storms until Sunday morning when the flood waters subsided, where they returned to their homes to assess the toll that the rains played on their homes, keepsakes and memories.
The damage to Wenonah’s two manufacturing facilities was minimal. Cueper adds that the company’s employees were affected more than the manufacturing facilities; four employees lost their homes and over half of the employee’s homes have endured massive water damage.
President George Bush declared Winona County a national disaster area, which enables FEMA to step in and coordinate efforts with local and state government to remedy the devastated area. They are currently in the processes of assessing the damages, with the National Guard still stationed in portions of Winona County until the water recedes.
For photos of flood damage, Click here