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BONUS ONLINE-ONLY COVERAGE // By Eric Christofferson


overflowed its banks while the city evacuated under the escort of the Na- tional Guard. Water poured in and covered more than 80 percent of the city when the dikes failed on April 18, 1997. A massive fire broke out downtown. In the aſtermath, entire neighborhoods were destroyed and the city was changed forever. Te story of the curling club is a part of the story of the 1997 flood. About


a foot of muddy, sewage-tainted water inundated the club and destroyed carpet, drywall, and most everything else that was saturated with water. When the floodwater finally receded, the arena was covered in a smelly resi- due that stuck to the concrete floor. Te odor of mildew permeated every- thing. Fortunately, the bulk of the steel structure and internal block walls were not structurally damaged. Te curling club was not a lost cause, but cleaning up would be no easy task. Don Barcome remembers the first time he walked into the club like it


was yesterday. “It was so humid in there. I remember walking into the club and finding all the rocks sitting in water. I got them above the water level and tipped them so the running edge could dry out.” Aſter the water reced- ed, he returned with a few friends. “Jim Torsen and Jim Rood helped me power-wash the ice area. It was a nasty project because there were almost 2 inches of river mud covering the floor. Te header pit at the home end was way nasty!” Don remembers others who helped as well. “Dr. Conner was a dentist from the Air Base. He took out damaged lookers and ripped up all the flooring in the viewing area.” Te curling season was over by the time of the flood, but as fate would


have it, the curling club was not destined to sit in mildew that summer. Dr. John Clayburgh was curling club president during the 1996-97 curl- ing season. “Te curling club was the furthest thing from my mind,” he re- members. His downtown dentistry clinic was leſt without water and power and his Northside home had suffered major damage. A few weeks aſter the flood, John was cleaning out some of his damaged items. “I was standing out on my driveway, and Shirley Barcome dove up in her red Cadillac. She came to tell me that the Ski and Bike Shop wanted to use the curling club to get back in business. Since I was the club president, she wanted to check with me.” John couldn’t think of a better way to help out a local business. Te late Shirley Barcome played an important role in helping connect


club members. Shirley was a bit of a club legend and an enthusiastic curler to say the least. She was a great ambassador for the club, a charter mem- ber, and always looked for ways to involve the community. Long time club members remember her fondly. In 1997, she was on the board of directors for the curling club. She was also a friend to Terry Knudson, one of the owners of the Ski and Bike Shop. Te store had been damaged in the flood and he contacted her to ask about renting the curling club for the summer. She called the other board members for input. By that time it was May and cleanup efforts around the city were just getting started. Ski and bike shop co owner Terry Knudson remembers the time as a dif-


ficult one for his business. He and co-owner Robert “Monty” Montgomery have operated a ski shop in Grand Forks since 1977, later adding bikes to their repertoire. In 1997, their business was located in the Colburn’s build-


The flood that never froze: April 1997 G


rand Forks is home to many strong people, and 20 years ago this April their strength was put to test. Aſter several weeks of sandbagging and days of agony, the Red River of the North


Tis iconic photo from the Grand Forks Herald was taken in downtown Grand Forks in 1997.


ing at 202 Demers Ave., the first building coming off the Sorlie Bridge downtown. Tey were nearing the end of a two-year lease-to-buy agree- ment and had just finished a major remodel when the flood hit. “We had peak inventory in bikes at that time of year,” he laments. “Our showroom was 12,000 square feet and stocked full for spring.” When the flood came, the building was hit hard. Te river rose up several feet over the first floor of the building. “Water covered everything. Tere was even a semi trailer parked out back loaded with overstock that was ruined.” When they finally got to come back aſter the water receded, they quickly realized they would never be able to run the business there again. Te building was eventually demolished. Terry, Monty, and crew are dedicated and passionate. As bike enthusi-


asts, getting back on their feet came naturally, however difficult that would prove to be. Tey needed a place to try and salvage some of the bikes before everything was completely ruined. Terry had curled a few years on league nights with a friend, Mark Aubol. Another friend happened to be Shirley Barcome. He recalls, “I asked Shirley if we could use the curling club for the summer. She brought it to the board, and within a week we were already back open for business.” Tey moved into the building May 17, and the crew began to clean off the more than 400 bikes damaged. “We cleaned off bikes and even tried to save some of the clothing. Boxes just fell apart when we tried to liſt them. A lot of the items had to be thrown, other things we sold at a 70 percent markdown. Insurance didn’t cover anything. Some of our suppliers like Trek wrote off some of the damage, but our business took a massive hit.” As the summer progressed, they persisted and also helped clean up the


club little by little. Terry remembers, “We hosed off bikes in the arena and did bike repair. Te clubhouse was our showroom. We kept the business office back in the bar.” He recalls that it was a really difficult summer, with reminders of the flood and the loss around every corner. “Business was fair. We had a dedicated group of customers and some new faces in the door. We


Continued on next page USA Curling (( 33


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