Midwest flooding hits boating hard

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Gangways at Lake Perry Marina are above horizontal to the docks because of high water levels.

Gangways at Lake Perry Marina are above horizontal to the docks because of high water levels.

Flooding from snow melt and unrelenting rains is causing problems for marinas and boat owners in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri and other areas.

“Earlier this year, it was no problem, but for the last three weeks, it’s hurt us,” Tim Rodems, sales manager at Ted’s Boatarama in Rock Island, Ill., on the Iowa border, told Trade Only Today. This past weekend was the first in awhile with no rain in the forecast, and Rodems was hopeful that his team would be able to get boats on the water.

At National Marine Sales in Peoria, Ill., service manager Bradley Scogin said the docks aren’t accessible. “It’s gone on since late April through May and into now,” he said. “If people aren’t using their boats, we can’t service them.”

National Marine Sales is on the Illinois River, which had reached 28 feet before receding to 21.6 feet. Normal is 18 feet.

At Omaha Marine Center in Omaha, Neb., sales manager John Lawlor estimates that boat sales are down about 30 percent. “Our market has been more heavily impacted,” he said. “I’d say it’s impacted easily half of our base market in one form or another. A good handful of private lakes are closed to boating, with lifts and docks and cabins in the water.” Other lakes in the area are restricted to no-wake speeds.

At Premier Boating Center, 10 miles outside Lincoln, Neb., a representative who asked not to be named said that many lakes were high, but it hasn’t hurt business.

At Mazanet Marina in Madison, Wis., owner Bill Mazanet said the local waterway is higher than the summer maximum level, but that no-wake restrictions had not been implemented. “Sales have been affected in the area quite a bit by the flooding,” he said.

In Blue Springs, Mo., Jeff Siems, owner of Blue Springs Marine, said the long winter transitioning into a spring rains “has definitely slowed things down.” His company serves metro Kansas City and Lake of the Ozarks. He said lake levels are slowly getting back to normal. Truman Reservoir on the Osage River has been held back early in the season to protect Lake of the Ozarks.

“I’m hoping we see our July Fourth turn into our Memorial Day,” he said, adding that his dealership, which carries the Chaparral, Avalon and Sylvan brands, is starting to see traffic pick up.

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