On August 28, around noon, after receiving upwards of 12 inches of rain in Western Massachutes in the previous 12 hours, the Deerfield River breached the dam above our factory in Shelburne Falls, Mass. Being as Shelburne Falls is on the Massachusetts western boarder and hundreds of miles from the coast, the magnitude of the flooding caught everyone by surprise.
With all the power and phone coverage knocked out and everyone scrambling to asses the damage, at our headquarters in Jackson Hole, we had no way of knowing how extensive the damage was. All we could do is search youtube and Internet for reporting. Here is an example of video that was available. This video shows a pink building floating downstream towards the factory which is off to the left.
Youtube Flood video1
This one shows later in the day when the water had come down a bit. Water flowing right into the L&G Headquarters.
After two years of struggling to bring manufacturing back to the USA, it looked like New West KnifeWorks had just washed down the river.
When we finally got a hold of the factory on Tuesday morning things looked grim. On a positive side no one was injured and the majority of the water had carved a trench on the upstream side of the factory back into the river channel. The 170 year old buildings had taken on water but remained intact. On the downside, all power had been stripped away and a 40'wide x 30' deep trench had been carved through the parking lot along the upstream side of two buildings.
The folks at the factory had no idea how long it would take to get things back online. For our manufacturing partners, Lamson and Goodnow, this looked like this could be a death blow to a company that has struggled over the last decade in adapting to the economic pressures of a global economy. This being the peak of manufacturing time for New West KnifeWorks in preparation for the Holiday season, which represents 40% of our annual business, this could have spelled our demise as well.
With nothing to do but press on, the boys rolled up there sleeves and got to work putting the factory back in order.
The fact that entire area was devastated by the flooding compounded the problem of getting up in running. Fortunately, the hydroelectric plant just downstream of the factory was mostly undamaged. The largest challenge was replacing all of the electrical wiring and transformers that had been washed downstream.
After three weeks, of hard work the power began to come back on. After four weeks the factory is up and running again. Thanks to disaster assistance loans from the State of Massachusetts and a lot of hard work by the folks at Lamson Goodnow; they are still slugging it out in the battle to survive in the global economy. At New West, it will be a struggle to meet all of our Holiday orders but, hallelujah, Christmas will come again. You might want to get your holiday orders in early as we are sure to run out of knives.