Flooding in the Midwest is keeping distributors there busy helping customers recover from the extensive damage the waters brought.
One of the hardest hit was Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second-largest city. The AP reported that about 1,300 city blocks flooded and 24,000 people fled their homes.
In Eastern Iowa, where Cedar Rapids is located, distributors worked long hours to help customers minimize potential damage before and during the flooding.
In one case, a Ferguson employee made a late-night run in heavy rain to the HVAC/plumbing distributor's Waterloo, IA, distribution center -50 miles each way -to get mechanical plugs for contractors working to prevent floodwaters from seeping into the local hospital.
The distributor worked with contractors throughout the night; unfortunately the floodwaters won out.
Distributors are fighting to keep certain products in stock, such as sump pumps, hot water heaters and water softeners.
They have also added generators, extension cords, tarps, batteries and other products to their offerings.
Terry Whitney, president of Cedar Rapids WinPump Co., says his company -a part of WinWholesale, Dayton, OH -sold no less than 400 pumps in one week, and now is facing a strong demand for water heaters.
He sold about 50 water heaters on Tuesday and he anticipates the demand will increase as residents return and start the cleanup.
Cedar Rapids WinPump sells throughout Eastern Iowa, so WinPump has been able to help customers in other flooded areas, including parts of Des Moines.
Suppliers have kept WinPump in stock, with same-day or next-day special deliveries. A Win company in Omaha also helped with supply.
We were only out of sump pumps for a total of three hours,"Whitney says.
"We made sure we had 80-100 pumps come in each day and things fell into place for us. Suppliers see that people are going to need these products, and it's our responsibility to make sure the product is available."
The closing of highways in and out of the city constrained supply for a couple of days. "As of Tuesday morning, we are seeing a return to normalization in Waterloo,"said Ferguson's facility manager there, Shawn Donahue.
"All carriers servicing the distribution center are fully operational and all main roads have reopened. At this point, we are prepared to fully resume all operations."