Local father and business owner pleads with the public to report flood damages
By Taylor J. Hale
PLOVER — A local father and business owner’s plea to the community to report their flood damages via the 211 line is echoing throughout Portage County.
Plover Motor Sports owner Benjamin Solem is asking area residents to report their flood damages so the county can meet the required threshold for federal aid.
“There are not enough reports out there to get us to the threshold of federal funding,” Solem said in an interview with the Gazette. “As of now, there is over a thousand homes and businesses affected in our area, but there’s only been a very minimum amount of reports, and that’s not going to help our situation at all.”
A Portage County Emergency Management representative visited Solem’s establishment on Mar. 25 to assess the damages, giving Plover Motor Sports a $30,000-$50,000 repair assessment. While the business owner suffered severe loss, he stays humble through the turbulent times.
“I haven’t set up any fundraisers yet,” Solem explained. “Set aside me as a commercial property, there are a lot of families and victims that don’t even have homes right now, so we’d like it, but there are other people who are much worse off than we are.”
The motorsports shop’s goal is to acquire federal funding for building repairs. Flood damage did not affect inventory or equipment during the torrential downpour and thaw on Mar. 14, due to Solem and his peers diligently clearing water from the building.
“We came in at midnight when the storm came in,” Solem said. “We had five or six guys in here shoveling water into our floor drains. That’s the only thing that saved the rest of the building and equipment. If we hadn’t been here, there would have been flooding 4 inches plus.”
Solem started the business when he was just 19, and supports his family through the establishment. It is his passion and his life’s work.
“I rented this property for about six years before I was able to purchase it three years ago,” Solem said endearingly.
The business owner has reached out to numerous state officials and federal agencies, all of which have redirected him to the 211 line. He asks the community to do their part in reporting damages.
“They haven’t released to us what the overall goal is as far as the dollar amount that needs to be displayed to reach the federal funding,” Solem explained. “We don’t know that level. Right now, the only thing that we can do is keep reporting.”
Contact Taylor J. Hale at [email protected] with Portage County news and information.