Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: The Red River flood

In 1997, Dealers in North Dakota dealt with a 500-year flood.

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Aug. 4, 1997 issue of National Home Center News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, covered the great flood of 1997 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Over a picture that brings to mind the current watery devastation in North Carolina, the headline reads: “Spring flood takes toll on Grand Forks dealers.” And the article explained that a blizzard, an ice storm and a 500-year-flood conspired to raise the waters of the Red River to damaging levels. The flood destroyed 5,000 area businesses and left many homes uninhabitable, according to the article.

Can today’s storm-rattled business owners learn from those who survived the great flood of 1997. Maybe they can.

Rick Simonson shows the height of the flood.

Rick Simonson was manager of hard-hit Simonson Lumber and Hardware. His message at the time was one of patience and perseverance. “When I walked in [the store], I could have gotten down and lost hope, and none of us would have tried. So you just grab a broom and a power washer and keep going. You’ve got to stay calm. You’re the leader.”

Bob Peabody, president of Lumber Mart, recommended to be aware that stress — an inevitable feature of flood devastation – can creep into decision making. “As you become subjected to more stress, you think you function, but you don’t.” He added: “If it were just Lumber Mart’s problems, it would be simple. I’ve got employee concerns, too.”

Peabody also stressed the importance of understanding what’s in your insurance policy.

Also quoted in the article was North Dakota’s crisis counseling coordinator: “Be patient, but get back to normal as fast as possible. You don’t want to give the impression that you’ve been through a trauma, and you don’t have to be responsible. It doesn’t mean something won’t be expected of you for the rest of your life.”

HBSDealer’s Throwback Thursday is sponsored by Schaffer Associates, a national management consulting firm specializing in executive search and organizational strategies for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As the premier management consulting firm serving the industry, we help build organizations and leadership teams that foster corporate growth and success well into the future. Contact us at


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