Fundraiser seeks to buy bottled water for Duluth

Time is of the essence for a local effort to provide truckloads of water to the flood-ravaged citizens of Duluth.

“They really need water in Duluth,” said Austin Hy-Vee store manager Todd Hepler.

The effort hopes to raise $7,560 for two semitrailers loaded with Hy-Vee bottled water. That would be 1,512 cases of half-liter bottles per truck, according to Albert Lea Hy-Vee store manager Al Weisert calculated. There are 24 bottles in a case. The normal price for a case is $4.99, but Hy-Vee is providing them for $2.50 a case.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, the effort, which began Monday, had $900. The cost for one truckload of bottled water is $3,780. The organizers of the effort request people donate $25 each, which would provide 10 cases.

“We’re hoping to help our neighbors to the north,” Weisert said.

People can donate to the effort at the Hy-Vee stores in Austin and Albert Lea. The effort is coordinating with the Salvation Army. Donations also are accepted at the Salvation Army offices in Austin and Albert Lea.

The effort is the brainchild of Todd Kriewall, part owner of Crossroads Trailer and a friend of Weisert. He had read a news story about the Salvation Army’s need for water in Duluth, called Weisert and proposed providing the trailers. Dan DeBoer of Pro Trucking offered to provide the tractor and to drive the trailers to where the Salvation Army needs it.

Weisert said Hy-Vee’s distribution center in Chariton, Iowa, is ready to send water to Albert Lea once the funds are raised.

“We are hoping to get it done by Wednesday or Thursday,” he said.

Capt. Jim Brickson of the Salvation Army said bottled water is always in high demand in any disaster. He said this is a special situation because the Salvation Army didn’t have to request the assistance.

“It’s neat when someone steps in and does that for you,” he said.

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