It's been a frustrating few weeks for Minnesota Southern Railway owner Brent Polanchek as he and his staff remain busy assessing the damage to their tracks. Everyone who uses them, he says, is being forced into a holding pattern.
"Right now, I have about a mile of track right here in Minnesota that I can run on and that's it," Polanchek said.
The railway in Luverne is silent, the trains at a complete top. Due to the severe flooding in June, the tracks East and West of the city are damaged and in need of repair. Polanchek knew there was damage after the first round of rain, but then the rain kept coming down.
"I'm thinking 'Well shoot, you know, all the damage has been done, it's not going to get any worse.' Imagine my surprise on Tuesday morning when I went out and the damage was two to three times worse than it was on Sunday," Polanchek said.
FEMA estimates on the repair costs come at about $1.5 million which will be paid for by both Nobles and Rock counties. They will be reimbursed for the repairs if federal emergency aid is approved.
In total, 11 businesses rely on the now closed-off railway, including the Agri-Business ethanol plant in Luverne that can't send any shipments in or out by rail.
"We have a fertilizer plant in Magnolia and we have fertilizer waiting to bring in for them. It's having a big impact on a lot of folks around here," Polanchek said.
That's why crews are already hard at work trying to get the rail road back open as soon as possible.
We did speak to officials with the ethanol plant and they said while the railway is out, they're using trucks to get their product to the desired locations.
That process is costing them and the other businesses more time and money, more than enough reason for Polanchek to move forward quickly with the repairs.
"We're real hopeful that when we get the line back into operation and going again that everybody will come back and use our little railroad," Polanchek said.
Polanchek says that traffic going East on the railway could be up and running by the end of next week. Traffic going west will need more time for repairs, which should take two to three weeks.