Waterville dentist uses canoe to keep his practice afloat during flood

As a dentist for more than 50 years, Bill Struve has used his fair share of essential equipment. But he never imagined a canoe would be at the top of that list.

"Not too many dentists get to bring their people in by canoe. So it's just kind of interesting," said Struve.

When floodwaters from nearby Lake Tetonka surrounded Struve's Northern Lights Dental Clinic a couple of weeks ago, he found a unique way to keep his practice afloat.

At first, Struve put a wall of sandbags around his office and closed it for a couple of days, but after realizing the rising waters didn't damage his building or contaminate his self-contained water system, he used a canoe to ferry in patients who had dental conditions that couldn't wait.

"We met them at the end of the block and then put them in a canoe and just brought them into the office. It was kind of fun. Everybody was having a good time," said Struve.

In all, Struve used his canoe to bring in about a half dozen patients, as well as some employees who didn't have waders.

"You had to make sure that you don't flip a patient in the water, So we had a couple of people on either side holding the canoe," said Struve.

The water may be slowly going back down, but years from now, some of Struve's patients will remember how their dentist and his canoe were able to lift their spirits.

"I would have been lost without it. That was the only thing I had, so it really helped me out," said Stuve.

Struve says his dental clinic will officially reopen on Tuesday, but thankfully his patients will be able to drive to the clinic, instead of taking his canoe.