Posted 4/01/09 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
This week, I’m tipping my hat to all of the volunteers from across North Dakota who have so valiantly been fighting the worst flooding that this state has seen in decades, if not in its history.
We all knew that with the record amounts of snow that we had this winter that there was going to be a strong chance of widespread flooding. But I doubt that anyone imagined the extent of flooding that we would see this past week and how many communities in the state have been impacted.
We saw some flooding here in McKenzie County and Watford City as the Little Missouri River and Cherry Creek spilled out of their banks. But our flooding pales in comparison to what the residents of Beulah, Hazen, Mott, Linton, Bismarck and Fargo have seen.
While area basketball fans motored back to Watford City following the State Class B Basketball Tournament to find minor flooding happening here, the Linton boys basketball team didn’t have time to celebrate their state championship. As soon as they unloaded from the bus, the team members began sandbagging efforts as they joined hundreds of other community volunteers in a unsuccessful effort to save the homes in Old Town from the onslaught of flood waters from Beaver Creek.
As so the story went this past week as tens of thousands of North Dakotans hunkered down, put aside their school work and their jobs and became part of a group of volunteers who worked 24 hours a day for more than a week filling sandbags, hauling and placing sandbags to protect their cities from hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damage. And the story was repeated in community after community as young and old worked side by side through long hours and tired bodies working for a common goal.
Adversity, it is said, brings out the best in people. If that is the case, then North Dakotans proved the point in flying colors this past week. North Dakotans didn’t sit back and wait for someone from the Federal Emergency Management Administration or other federal agency to step in and save them. We did it ourselves. Our city and county leaders, along with the Governor and the National Guard responded to the emergency situations across the state promptly and professionally. They knew what they had to do to protect their cities and their businesses and residents and they did it.
But the real unsung heroes of this past week are the tens of thousands of North Dakotans who did what North Dakotans seem to always do best. And that is to help each other.
To all of you who helped in the flood efforts, all I can say is, “Thank you and God bless you.” You’ve made all of us proud to say that we are North Dakotans.