As waters rise in Rainy Lake, resort owners watch docks wash away and Boise paper mill workers stack sandbags around generators in their flooding powerhouse, there's one industry on Minnesota's northern border that's not affected: houseboat rentals.
"Our customers are still doing their vacations and people are still making reservations," said Bill Dougherty. "We've seen it before, not this high, but the lake doesn't go away, that's for sure."
Dougherty is part owner of the largest houseboat rental company on Rainy Lake. He runs 29 boats and guide services out of a main base 10 miles east of International Falls. Rising waters mean sandbagging and property loss for home and resort owners. For Dougherty flooding just means there's more lake.
Scores of docks were washed away last week, but Dougherty's ties his boats to floating docks that rise and fall freely with water levels. They weren't damaged at all.
Area officials are warning boaters to look out for floating debris. All those ruined docks are still floating around and could potentially hole the sides of passing boats.
Dougherty said debris isn't nearly as big a deal on the lake as people think.
"I've been on the lake for 20 straight days," he said. "I haven't hit anything and none of my customers have hit anything."
There is debris in the water, he said, but it's mainly in the International Falls area. Most of his boats run up into Voyageurs National Park where debris hasn't spread. It's a big lake -- even bigger now.