31 March 2009
Despite being on a higher elevation than the rest of Fargo, this resident is prepared for the worst. In the front yard a canoe sits atop of a snow bank. Just blocks away is an emergency shelter. This is one of the only parts of Fargo that is not part of the evacuation plan. This is mostly due to the height of the land in the portion of Fargo I call Middle Fargo.
Who could blame the resident? The Red is an unpredictable and wily foe.
30 March 2009
Sandbagging re-started in Dilworth and Moorhead today shortly Fargo ceased its operations at the Fargo Dome. Travel advisories have been issued for the region plus at the Fargo city briefing it officials advised that only emergency travel should be done. Also at the afternoon meeting, the use of the Predator drone data collection was demonstrated.
29 March 2009
Not wanting to expend gasoline, I biked up the street to the dome. Arriving at 5PM I found the floor of the dome to be crowded and chaotic. How on earth was I going to lend a helping hand when it seemed there were some many hands helping already. I watched and waited for a few minutes in the stands. There were other who were doing the same (or so I thought.) Finally I wafted my way to the floor and looked for a place to help. Nothing. Finally I went to the west side and began to pile empty sandbags with 2 junior high girls (or so I thought they were.) At last I spied a job. Piling the bags on the pallet. Who knew that working at Forum Communications and Roman Meal would prepare me for this task?
I was on a roll for a while but then people started taking breaks and then the shoveler, the bag holder, and the tier all left and I had a half stacked pallet. Nobody took their places. I stood around for a while until I noticed other bags that I could stack on the pallet. Eventually that even dried up at 9 o clock rolled around.
I folded bags for a while and then ended the evening with some shoveling. At that point I went up to the canteen that the Red Cross and Salvation Army had set up. They had some the best pizza in town from Extreme Pizza Kitchen (sorry Duane's just doesn't cut.) After a few pieces and photos, I bike home round about 10:45PM.
You won't see the pictures yet because I left the special cable to the camera at work. I had forgotten to pack the SD card so I used internal memory.
A few rants about my time tonight.
First it was a real good experience. Don't get me wrong here. I enjoyed having this opportunity to volunteer. I am especially grateful for Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Extreme Pizza Kitchen who ensure the night of volunteering ended on a delicious note.
Okay, now the rants.
- I don't understand why people were still stacking pallets high and in pyramids because it seemed that it was advised against on the PA every half hour.
- Junior high girls. There were a few that were helpful but it appeared that many were there just there to text message or flirt with boys.
- Chaotic entropy. That's how I described the manner in which the sand bagging was being completed. Certainly there could have been a means to use that many people more efficiently. However I guess it got the job done.
Hendrum was dangerously close to being whelmed over by the river. The small town in Minnesota just about 25 miles north of Moorhead hardly had a skeleton crew to re-enforce their dike. Finally a call went out on the local radio station for volunteers. I'm unsure of the outcome but I am bit distressed that there could have been a co-ordinated effort to get many volunteers up there especially since many were without work in the dome. Nonetheless, WDAY deserves the kudos for sounding the alarm and summong volunteers from the region.
With no bathrooms and no water, a church just blocks from the Red River on Main Avenue held its regular worship service this Sunday morning as National Guard units patrolled just across the street.
Most of the audio and visual equipment plus the chairs had been stowed earlier in the week as a precaution. About 2 dozen folding chairs were rounded up and the video projector was brought out. Nearly a dozen were in attendance to worship and hear interim pastor Neil Thielke share a message.
2 families in the church from Moorhead were especially hit hard by flood waters. It was good to hear that both were safe. Neil had aided one family in diking around the entire house when the City of Moorhead installed a temporary dike in front of the home. Most church members helped in the sandbagging efforts around the city in addition to evacuating one family from their home.
Neil's message emphasized the need for God's grace- which he stated could be thought of as God's supply. He elaborated by reviewing the story of Gideon- who defeated a vast army with only 300 men. Neil explained that people have some strength and ability but it is not enough to get the job done. Whether small or insurmountable, it is necessary to "extract the payment" and obtain God's supply. Tying the message to current events in the region, Neil noted that prior to Friday, Moorhead's flood briefing (it may have been Fargo's but I am not sure) began with a joke but on Friday there was prayer. Later that day the tide had turned. The forecast high point was smaller and water levels lowered.
Quite a few churches have been praying for the region and continue to do so.
Other church related stories:
Hotel become church for flood weary
Baptist News Network story
Some churches affected
Bishop calls for prayer
200 pray in South Fargo
Flooding a community with prayer
Charisma News Network Story
28 March 2009
I arrived downtown Saturday night to check on a building I work in and overheard from the traffic minders that in order to get to Moorhead, people need to use I-94 instead of the Main Avenue bridge. I suspect this may be only temporary but have found nothing to verify my assumption. They were only letting utility trucks and heavy equipment through and I also overheard they were increasing a dike someplace. That explains the amount of trucks with clay I witnessed drive pass.
In the picture you can barely make out the National Guard and police at each intersection. I didn't want to press my luck to get a closer shot. In the picture below you can see a line of trucks with clay heading east toward the Main Ave bridge.
Most major sandbagging operations have ceased but smaller sandbagging efforts continue elsewhere.
Few compatriots of my era are mentioned although there is one reference to a Natalie Diem. We were in Marat/Sade together. As I recall, she was intense. I made an effort not to get in her way. And, to complete the rhyme, she appeared as Charlotte Corday.
Brent Roske gets no mention in here (The Profile) albeit because he never graduated from UMM. He spent about 3 years total in Morris and now is an emerging filmmaker (for lack of a better term). In those years, I chased his shadow either in the cafeteria or in the theater dept. My favorite role Brent played was the cook in Mother Courage. Although I would also nominate him for the non-traditional role as PFM Grill Cook.
Nate Metcalf does not get mentioned either although he's an Artistic Associate with the National Theatre for Children and has written 3 award winning one acts according to his My Space. These day I think of him as the Anti- Dustin Diamond- if you squint a little you could see the resemblance. He also resembles the Charlie Brown composer Vince Guaraldi. Another intense actor he was but Nate did have a lighter side and also appeared in Mother Courage. Oh yeah he also won on Jeopardy.
Nate's co-conspirator at UMM was Zach Anderson. Both arrived at Morris from the rural burg of Dasel-Cokato. I may have run into them in high school past at a Dasel Cokato Charger speech meet but's a blog story for another time. Back to Zach. It seemed that Zach was in nearly every production at Morris during his time there. Big roles, small roles, funny, serious, Shakespearean, absurdist- he played them all. I directed him once in an acting and directing class project. He was so versatile, something for which I aspired at the time. I was still a hack at best. He moved on to larger things that weren't necessarily theatrical after college but important and world changing- You can find out more about Zach here:http://www.zachandjules.blogspot.com/ He still uses his phenomenal dramatic abilities in some capacity I believe.
I don't have enough time to write about Mike Chmiel, Fred O, Andi B, or the astute Forest Hawk. And there's plenty of others that came after but really do I want to write about them. No.
Compared to Kansas, the Red is a more formiable opponent- often unpredictiable and vastly larger than Cole Aldrich. The Bison men had their hands full...of sandbags. However, 2 different keys lead to the sustainment of Red's rise- bone chilling temperatures and a vastly larger bench. Right now it appears the Red has crested- 40.82. Now defense will be the key to keep the Red in check.
27 March 2009
Further narrative of my time fighting the Red River flood in Fargo.
I settled down for a few minutes after returning from my earlier foray sandbagging in South Fargo. The phone rang just after I devoured an Extreme Pita. A CodeRed was issued to gather volunteers to increase the height of the main earthen dike just south of downtown. I a couple of moments I revived my wardrobe with some warmer attire and headed east about a half mile to the dike by foot. Hundred of citizens had already gathered and were heaving the sandbags up the dike. I joined the fight immediately and met up with some co-workers.
Earlier in the day while I was waiting, the crest forecast had risen to to something between 41' to 43'. Most of the dikes in town would need to increased especially the first line of defense along the Red River. The Island Park Dike only can contain about 41' from my recollections. At least 2' would need to be added to ensure security.
The weather was not very cooperative. The temps dipped into the teens and there was a wind chill. My toes where freezing in my boots. Plus a lot of the sandbags were frozen making it difficult to place the bags correctly. Work began at around a quarter 12 and continued into the morning. My roommate did not arrive home until 6:30 AM. Both of us were exhausted but a great deed had been done.
More narrative of my time embedded with the Fargo volunteer flood fighters on March 26
A plea for more volunteers swelled the flood fighter numbers drastically. With the system stressed by the larger turnouts, there was much waiting and confusion. Squads of Carhart clad volunteers sat on bleachers in the Assembly of God volunteer center eating and hoping to get out there to help. Buses were lining up outside. Some returned workers to the Fargo Dome and others took volunteers to possible work sites. I had been riding the bus most of the day and each time I got to the site the whole bus was told to return because there were too many workers.
As the sun began to set, I boarded another bus bound for some dike in south Fargo. On that bus I met up with a man who just arrived from Omaha with a friend from Hong Kong. Based on some phone calls made to the Red Cross hotline, Doug was unsure if he should make the trip. Nevertheless, Red Cross called him back and gave him to go ahead.
We arrived at a site in south Fargo and finally got our chance to pass the sandbags and re-enforce a dike. It was getting chilly and snow was falling. However, the crew kept at the work at hand. Unfortunately the last call for buses around 10PM diminished the workforce. More sandbags were coming but only one line of workers were still there. The only way to continue was to drive back on my own which I had no clue where I was and didn't want to violate police pleas not to be driving about.
I returned home, had a beer, and ate a pita. Then the phone rang.....
A further report while embedded with volunteer forces in south Fargo.
After much waiting I eventually went out on another bus on Thursday around 5PM to the an area around Drain 27. This creek-like drain swelled to enormous proportions and threatened numerous homes, apartments, and businesses. I saw many volunteers hard at work en route. However, this trip proved no better than the previous- too many volunteers. We stayed on the bus and returned to the Assembly of God. Quite a few were disappointed. I overheard many speak of the same scenario I found myself in- on a bus for a while to get to a work site but only to be turned away. I was nearing frustration at this process. Certainly there was someplace that needed a workforce ready and willing to work? I was doubting my decision to use the official channels for volunteering. It just seemed to be breaking down.
After about 45 minutes I got on another bus that took me to the Assembly of God. A short wait, I got on yet another bus which drove us to the River Dr neighborhood in South Eastern Fargo. It took about 45 minutes to get there due to the weather. The previous days' winter storm had left plenty of snow which the city was not able to plow. A crew got off the bus but a foreman sent us back to the bus because there were too many volunteers. So I took another 45 minute bus ride back to the Assembly of God.
It was hurry up and wait for almost 2 hours. The volunteer effort must of been so huge that management of it began to fail.
I decided to eat some more. The food spread was even more plentiful. I had corn dog, banana, Olive Garden salad, and a Famous Dave's Pulled pork sandwich. I kept a pita in my pocket for later. All this food made me want to volunteer more. But alas I still waited.
26 March 2009
25 March 2009
Rewind about a month and a half ago. The Mayor was in DC testifying concerning preparedness for a major flood in the region. He noted other cities in the Valley have received the aid to build adequate dikes (i.e. Grand Forks has one at around 61 feet I think.) since that last big one in 1997. I believe he was quoted as saying "It's our turn." Now the Go is up against a record swell.
Coincidence? I'm just grasping at straws but certainly this should get DC's attention especially since its on the heels of NDSU's first NCAA appearance. I had to add that :)
The dike in GO is something like 40 feet, having been raised a few feet in the last decade. Temporary dikes have been assembled when needed but with a 41 foot crest coming it is going to be taxing. The good part is the volunteers have come out. The challenge now- half million sand bags by Saturday morn. I'm about to help in this effort. More later.
24 March 2009
- Ben Woodside put in 37 points. If he wouldn't have missed a few free throws he'd be at 40 but he kept apace of Sherron Collins. I believe he has the most single game points for this tournament. Quite a finale for the point guard.
- Brett Winkelman captures a double double. A fine curtain call to a subperb season.
- Cole Aldrich- a simply unstoppable hulk. Moorman fouled out trying to contain the 6'11'' Kansas center. There was just no answer from the Bison for this future NBA player. Aldrich really made the difference.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The Bison showed a national audience that their program is willing to do what it takes to go head to head with the big guns of division I. Altough it ended with a loss, it was an incredible game. The Bison kept it within in striking distance.
Much like when they returned to Fargo after the Summit League tournament, the Bison found themselves in the midst of natural disaster- flooding. Over the weekend the Red River began to overtake its boundaries. Volunteers were assemblied. College and Universities canceled classes. Fargo and Moorhead were in for a big early flood. Sandbags are still being filled and road are being shut down - including parts of I-29 and I-94. Temporary dikes are being assembled as it looks like this one will approach the 1997 level- the supposed 100 year flood level.These 2 people who live along the river responded surprisingly. They expressed their desires to lick the flood and give a swift kick out of town. The boldness of these individuals is not shared universally. I am under the impression this guy has some Army surplus supplies that will fend off flood waters and keep his beer cold or he was being sarcastic in order to get published in this blog.
I'm of the opinion that money is not my own. I'm only taking care of it and eventually through the economic forces it will either tranfer to somebody else or turn into something. A weird definition but true I suspect as we don't use dollars or cents in that great beyond.
One book that opened my eyes up more to homelessness was Under the Overpass. I actually saw the author in the Go a few years ago. But the discoveries of 2 young men who decided to become homeless were insightful and compelling. I don't remember what the authors said about hand outs but they seemed cautious as they encountered many on streets who were there because of poor choices (drugs and alcohol abuse). A third category they encountered was the mentally ill and that's probably the hardest to deal.
So the tug of conscious is am I using this money, that is not my own, by giving to some who may or may not use it well and thus heap condemnation on them and myself. Whether that is completely true I am unsure. It has been written that the love money is the root of all evil. So in a manner money has power- to do good or do evil. (Or will my change, love has power.) For money some people will do anything. I digress before I get in a complex Kantian debate here.
I am convinced there is evidence for both sides and so the concluding remark remains - it depends.
But maybe on a wiser note- perhaps gift cards or certifcate could work better. Sure it could be sold for cash, but at the same time there is that possibility it will be used. Who throws money away even if its not cash?
(Note: I forgot about the love of money thing so that changes things a smidge. Small question- how can you tell if you love money- if you are always busy or saving too much?)
20 March 2009
In less than 12 hours North Dakota State will play Kansas in their first NCAA Tournament game ever. It's a steep task to face the defending champions Kansas Jayhawks. However, the NCAA has thrown them a bit of a golden parachute by placing the game in Minneapolis- a mere 240 miles from campus. Will Bison Nation be there? You bet they will be. Almost a half year removed from the Bison football victory over Minnesota, the men's basketball team is in the same venue looking for an upset. I wouldn't bet against it even if Kansas do look bigger and badder than anything the Summit League can throw at NDSU. But hey, they made the field of 64. Minnesota is out after a loss to Texas. Maybe the Gopher State will get behind ND State. Both Winkelman and Woodside are Minnesota natives plus there's a guy on the bench from Willmar- also in Minnesota. My guess is that it's going to be great fan support. I was pretty impressed with Minnesota early in the season but they just faded at the end. 3 pointers did them in this time. The last time a Summit/Mid-Continent League team made it out of the 1st round it was in 1998 when Valparaiso defeated Mississippi and then Florida State. Valpo and the rest of the teams victorious in the 1st round are no longer in the league (looks like most of them play in the Horizon League.) Oral Roberts and Oakland, the most recent entries from the Summit did not fare well. But perhaps Woodside, Moorman, Winkelman, and Nelson are a special breed. I really want them to win.
19 March 2009
17 March 2009
I digress. In the States, St. Patrick seems to have become the patron saint of drinking. Perhaps this is the case elsewhere. I know no other day to celebrate a Christian pioneer that is celebrated with numerous pints. Somehow we lose track of Patrick and celebrate all things Irish by drenching ourselves with green beer. Although one website notes that binge drinking is normal in Ireland, I highly doubt that is for what the Irish want to have a reputation. And the cost of a pint in Ireland, I can hardly believe this is affordable behaviour.
In other Irish news- violence again erupted in the North as dissident nationalist paramilitary shot police officers. As I wrote a number of years ago in this space, the North is a complicated scenario. Peace is fragile. There will always be someone holding to the view of a fully united Ireland. The actions of this last week were certainly attempts to derail the process, to create fear and suspicions amongst those who tacitly went along with the devolved government. The New York Times article above seems to suggest that a portion of the populous of Northern Ireland would not accept these methods any longer. Sinn Fein, the major Republican political party, denounced the killings and certainly stayed true to a commitment to the political process.
Obama's comments on this.
This is the 2nd consecutive year I have not set up a pray for Ireland on St. Patrick's Day list. Business has gotten into the way. However, I continue to pray for Ireland. And certainly for a fair and just political solution in the North to come about. Here are some points to pray for Ireland in this season.
- Pray for the economy, for integrity and honesty in the financial services. Like most of the world Ireland has been hit by a slowing economy. Be courageous and pray for new wells of prosperity to open.
- Pray for the governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland (the Dail and Northern Irish Assembly) to have wisdom in making difficult decisions and not be sidetracked into partisan politics. Pray for Taoiseach (Ireland Prime Minister) Brian Cowen, and Northern Ireland 1st and Deputy Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.
- Pray for spirtual revival during this time when people's hope is shaken. Pray that there would be a greater openess to Jesus and the Church would be courageous to reach out to those who are suffering.
10 March 2009
Today reminded me of the 2008 radio show which a cast, band and I recorded back in December of 2008. It was supposed to be a big event with lots of people coming to be part of the studio audience. However, the weather would gain the upper hand and create fear and loathing amongst the potential crowd which would be attending. The eye of the storm came the next day.
But for those who missed it and those who never heard of such a crazy show which never airs on real radio (I'm told it's only for professionals) you have chance to hear it.
Go to this URL: http://www.hcc-fargo.com/ and then click on 2008 Radio Show.
Hopefully more will hear it online than actually heard/saw it live.
As a blizzard ravaged the Bison homeland and I sat home wondering if there was cable television anywhere, NDSU overcomes the Oakland Grizzlies 66-64 in the final minutes for the Summit League Championship and a berth into the NCAA Tournanment.
The history between these 2 teams certainly suggested an epic match-up but for the Bison it was mostly a catch up affair in Sioux Falls. They were down as many as 14 points at one point. The Herd only held the lead in the final minutes. I'm sure most Bison fans were biting their nails. Oakland kept Woodside and Winkelman mostly quiet. However, underclassman Michael Tveidt stepped up to aid his Bison brethern by scoring 21. Winkelman's double digit scoring streak ended, Brett finished with 9 points but he grabbed 8 rebounds to place himself as NDSU's #2 all time rebounder.
When I looked at the stats to discern how this game was won- other than by sure determination of the upper classmen (i.e. Ben Woodside's jumper with 3 seconds left)- it really come down to the bench. Sure all of Oakland's starters were in double digits but their bench scored only 3. The Bison scored like a dozen from the bench. Okay I also realize that good clock management in those final minutes also was key- right on Coach Phillips!
Who knows when this team will ever come home? The blizzard's force still smothers the Valley. The seniors have to be on cloud nine. A dream is realized for these guys that not many besides them were really banking. I've got to hand it to this team. I may not be the most ardent of Bison basketball fans but this is a good story. And okay I'm 2 degrees separated from most of the team through Segue, but that's another tale.
09 March 2009
A Thundering Herd gained at place in the Summit League championship game.
As a blizzard descended upon the Go, the Herd turned on the heat in Sioux Falls shooting 51% from the field. Mike Nelson (#31) deserves the game ball for 22 points and holding Southern Utah's Davis Baker to just 8 points. Davis had scored 17 in the previous meeting with the Bison.