BISMARCK, N.D. -- A debilitating blizzard that brought 17 inches of snow here last weekend closed highways and knocked out electricity -- causing major product losses for 80 supermarkets serviced by Supervalu, based in Minneapolis.
Elsewhere in south-central North Dakota, flooded roads, washed-out bridges, downed phone lines and weakened pavement all combined to make food shipments a nightmare. "It's the worst that I've ever seen it, and I've been in this division for 17 years," said Terry Hartman, transportation manager for Supervalu's Northern region here. Hartman said that without electrical power, the 80 regional stores could not sustain frozens or keep produce warm enough. The dollar loss has not yet been calculated.
Although area roads were reopened early last week, the melted snow has softened pavement to the breaking point, Hartman said. Commercial traffic has been rerouted to avoid the unstable roadways, which now have a 6-ton weight limit.
Dana Steinwand, warehouse superintendent for Nash Finch's North Dakota/Minot division, reported similar difficulties in delivering food to his customers. But he said deliveries were almost caught up as of late last week.
Across the state line, flooding along the Minnesota River and in the Red River Valley is threatening several Coborn's stores, said Dan Coborn, chief executive officer of Coborn's, St. Cloud, Minn.
No flood damage was reported as of late last week, but Coborn said deliveries have been halted between the company's central bakery in Fergus Falls, Minn., and Fargo, N.D.