Iowa Growers Feeling Effects Of Floods

Floodwaters in Iowa are finally starting to recede, but some growers don’t expect business to return to normal anytime soon. As the state dries up, they can only hope their customers will continue to purchase plants and resume life where they left off before heavy rains came.

Still, life and business might not be the same at Krieger’s Greenhouses & Floral in Mason City, Iowa, for some time. Krieger’s, a wholesale retailer located in North Central Iowa, wasn’t able to save much in its greenhouses after a levy along the Winnebago River broke and flooded the town.

“The majority of our range, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 acres, was all five feet or so under water,” says Todd Krieger, co-owner of Krieger’s. “Everything back there was washed out. We were able to save the nursery and perennials, which was on a little higher spot. Once the water went down, we were able to clean the front parking lot and get enough of the retail part cleaned out.”

Now, Krieger’s main focus is to clean its retail shop so it can at least do some business. But it might not be able to do business there for long.

“The retail shop, we just found out yesterday, has to be completely gutted down to the studs,” Krieger says. “It’s a wood-framed building with wood paneling on the inside and outside. We’re still in the process of just trying to figure all this out.”

The situation at DeJong Greenhouses in Pella, Iowa, is slightly better, but not by much.

“Nothing that would go in the ground is being sold,” says Mark DeJong, president of DeJong Greenhouses. “It’s too wet to plant, and people’s heads are elsewhere.”

DeJong Greenhouses might, at least, be one of the more fortunate operations in the state. The operation is located on considerably higher ground than other parts of the state, DeJong says, and the floods certainly didn’t hit Pella the way they did Cedar Falls and Iowa City in Eastern Iowa–or Mason City.

“There is a sense of optimism right now,” DeJong says. “The places that got hit the worst did not get hit as badly in 1993, and they consequently had not made the changes and improvements that Des Moines did, which got hit pretty hard in ’93.

“It’s just a wait-and-see now. We’re hoping once this all shakes out, there will still be some demand for color to brighten up the world.”

DeJong Greenhouses cleared out most of its plants before the floods arrived, and its hanging baskets are really the only items being sold at the moment.

“You would still like to sell what’s left,” DeJong says. “As the old saying goes, what’s out there in the greenhouse is the profits.”

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