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In it Together

College teams with community in flood fight

If the Flood Fight of 2009 had a theme, it would be "we're all in it together."

The statement sums up a collective state of mind you'd witness on a visit to the sandbag filling station's seventh day of operation at the Moorhead campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State).

The M State - Moorhead campus provost, Dr. Jerome Migler, offered the City of Moorhead use of a parking lot on the east end of campus and the station began operation on Monday, March 23. It was designated by the City to provide sandbags for building temporary dikes to hold back the force of the rising Red River. Record winter snowfalls led to the river's historic flood crest on Saturday, March 27.

The site was managed entirely by college faculty and staff. The college's president, Dr. Ann Valentine, and campus librarian Perry Werner were among college staff members who directed truck and equipment traffic to ensure safety at the site. Many other college employees and students joined thousands of community volunteers in the labor of filling bags one shovel at a time. Jim Behner and Greg Peterson, both instructors of the college's diesel equipment technology program, operated skid-steer loaders that stacked trucks with pallets of full sandbags. Matt Sheppard, facilities director for the campus, served as the link between the filling site and city officials to dispatch loaded trucks to locations where sandbags were needed.

Inside the college, Kim Brewster continuously turned out food for workers, most of which was donated by dozens of wholesale food suppliers and restaurants in the community. Brewster is an instructor for the college's culinary arts program.

"Last week I had anywhere from 7 to 10 of my students working here, too," Brewster said. "They were great. I was able to leave for a few hours, and they kept things going. The best thing is they learned to get more creative and put things together with what we had on hand."

"It's just what you do for your neighbor," said one volunteer as she added another sandbag to the stack on a wooden pallet.

Neighbors came from next door and from as far away as Washington, D.C. Matt Doherty, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, saw CNN reports of the rising waters on a television in the student commons of his campus.

"I felt bad about it," Doherty said. "Then I decided: It's one thing to feel bad and another thing to act on it."

Doherty quickly made arrangements to head for Fargo-Moorhead on Thursday, March 26. Once he arrived at Fargo's Hector International Airport, he contacted the volunteer hotline and made his way to the Fargodome. There, he worked 13 hours filling sandbags. Through the weekend, he helped homeowners move their belongings to upper stories and reinforced dikes in south Moorhead, where a breach threatened hundreds of residences and businesses. By Monday, he was filling sandbags again, this time at M State's Moorhead campus.

Few students traveled as far as Doherty to assist in the flood-fighting effort, but he was just one of thousands with similar stories. The day before Doherty arrived, four buses brought 219 students from Alexandria Technical College, a two-hour drive from Moorhead. Two trucks followed them, delivering skid-steer loaders and a backhoe to help with the day's efforts.

Cars and busloads of students and staff from the college's other campuses at Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Wadena arrived to help.

Many businesses throughout the area contributed equipment, including Case IH and John Deere. Both companies are corporate partners with the college's diesel equipment technology program.

Everyone expected they were done filling sandbags on Saturday, but news of an approaching snowstorm prompted city officials to call Migler on Sunday afternoon. They needed another 100,000 sandbags filled to have on reserve in case high winds caused breaches in the dikes. In turn, Migler emailed everyone on campus and local media spread word that more volunteers were needed. After 12 hours on Monday, they did it.

After seven days of operation, Sheppard estimated that close to 500,000 sandbags were filled at the site and delivered throughout the community.

Classes were cancelled on campus during the flood fight. Faculty kept connected with their students via email, keeping them updated, encouraging them to assist with the flood fight if possible, and assuring that arrangements would be made later to complete assignments when classes resumed.

"We're really tired," said Claudia Simon, a college staff member who accepted the role of matching volunteers to jobs. Many people had worked 10-14 hours daily at the site for the entire week. Some began before that, helping their neighbors and family members prepare at home.

Flood waters gradually began to recede during the weekend. Forecasters warned that relief from the high waters would come slowly, yet it was clear that, as a community, they'd get through it together.


 

Helping in the Flood Fight

By CC Times, Published March 27, 2009

As flood waters of the Red River threaten communities along the Minnesota-North Dakota border, students, faculty and staff of Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MSCTC) have joined to help save homes and keep volunteers feed.

The college's Moorhead Campus cancelled most classes for the week, releasing more than 2,000 students to assist with flood preparations in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Joined by students from their sister campuses of Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Wadena, they are working at a city sandbag filling and pick-up site set up in a parking lot on the college's Moorhead Campus.

MSCTC is also providing skid-steer loaders from its diesel technology program and other equipment to assist with efforts, while students from the college's culinary arts program are busy making sandwiches and other food to distribute to volunteers through the Salvation Army.

"There has been a herculean effort put forth by all four of our campuses and the community," said Ann Valentine, president of the college.

The situation in the area has grown increasingly bleak over the week. When sandbagging efforts began this Monday, the expectation was that the river crest would reach 39 to 41 feet and arrive as early as Friday, a prediction that placed the flood a foot higher and a day earlier than originally anticipated. As of today, it is expected to reach 42 to 43 feet on Saturday, and it may remain at the record-breaking level for several days.

Some families have started to evacuate their homes, while others have already faced devastation and loss. Officials hope contingency dikes will hold up.

The college has launched a Web page to disseminate flood-related information to students, staff and community members at www.minnesota.edu/flood.


 

M State Reaches Out to its Neighbors to the West

March 26, 2009

Flood waters continue to threaten the fate of the Fargo-Moorhead area, yet the resolve of the many students, faculty and staff of Minnesota State Community and Technical College holds strong. Side by side, working in the wind, cold and snow, a collaborative effort is taking place to save homes and feed the masses.

"We've had a phenomenal turnout from the community and surrounding communities," says Cal Helgeson, Director of Web Services at M State - Moorhead. "There are between three and four hundred people in the campus parking lot filling sandbags. We have 18 skid steers loading trucks to transport sandbags across the Fargo-Moorhead area. Everyone is working together as a team."

The situation in the Fargo-Moorhead area has grown increasingly bleak as the week has passed. When sandbagging efforts began on Monday, the expectation was that the Red River flood crest would reach 39 to 41 feet and arrive as early as Friday, a prediction that placed the flood a foot higher and a day earlier than originally anticipated. The expectation has now been upgraded to a crest of 42 to 43 feet Saturday which could remain at the record-breaking level for several days.

Some families have begun evacuation of their homes as others have already faced devastation and loss. Still, hopes remain as the volunteers continue work on contingency dikes and will likely do so through the night into Friday.

The Moorhead campus of M State has cancelled most classes for the week, releasing more than 2,000 students to assist with flood preparations in Fargo-Moorhead. Joined by students from their sister campuses of Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Wadena, they are working at a city sandbag filling and pick up site that has been set up in a parking lot on the M State - Moorhead campus. Students from other area colleges are being dispersed to other work sites in Fargo and Moorhead. The college is providing skid-steer loaders from its diesel technology program and other equipment to assist with efforts.

Students of the culinary arts program are busy making sandwiches and other food for distribution to volunteers by the Salvation Army. Food donations also poured in from area businesses to help feed the hard working volunteers.

"It is tremendously gratifying to be a part of M State and see the pride and sense of volunteerism among our students, faculty and staff," says Ann Valentine, President of Minnesota State Community and Technical College. "There has been a herculean effort put forth by all four of our campuses and the community. I give a lot of credit to our college leaders and the decision they have made to be a part of the solution to the crisis we now face. Our state can be proud of M State and its commitment to assist our neighbors in need."


 

M State - Wadena Students Aid Relief in Fargo-Moorhead Flood

Students and Staff Sandbag to Save Homes and Businesses

WADENA, March 25

More than 50 students, faculty, and staff members at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena campus travelled to Fargo-Moorhead early this morning to aid and assist in preventing flood waters from wreaking havoc on the Minnesota-North Dakota border.
As all the colleges in the Fargo-Moorhead area have closed their campuses, freeing students to help in sand-bagging; M State - Wadena students decided to help out their sister campus and continue to fight. Supplies donated for use by the City of Wadena such as large road cones, ladders, and shovels were dropped off by Ron Bucholz as people need to get creative to speed up the sand bagging process.
M State - Wadena students will be working from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. tonight, while students from M State - Moorhead and other FM area colleges have been working 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. since Monday morning.
We would like to send our thanks to the students and staff who assisted in the relief efforts in the Fargo-Moorhead area; your efforts have saved many homes and businesses.


 

M State Responds to Flood Needs with Students, Equipment

March 24, 2009

The Moorhead campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College cancelled most classes Monday and Tuesday, releasing more than 2,000 students to assist with flood preparations in Fargo-Moorhead.

Many students, staff and community members are working at a city sandbag filling and pick up site that has been set up in a parking lot on the M State - Moorhead campus. Other students are being dispersed to other work sites in Fargo and Moorhead. The college is providing skid-steer loaders from its diesel technology program and other equipment to assist with efforts. Students of the culinary arts program are busy making sandwiches and other food for distribution to volunteers by the Salvation Army in Fargo.

Students and staff from the Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls campuses are also pitching in. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the M State-Wadena campus is sending a bus of 47 students and staff to assist at the Moorhead campus.

The college has launched a Web page to communicate current flood-related information to students, staff, and community members at www.minnesota.edu/flood.

As a member of the Minnesota State College and Universities System, M State serves more than 6,500 students in credit courses each term through more than 120 career and liberal arts programs at its four campuses located in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead, and Wadena, and online. By partnering with communities, the college also provides custom training services and other responsive training programs.

 

M State Responds to Flood Needs with Students, Equipment

The Moorhead campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College cancelled most classes Monday and Tuesday, releasing more than 2,000 students to assist with flood preparations in Fargo-Moorhead.

Many students, staff and community members are working at a city sandbag filling and pick up site that has been set up in a parking lot on the M State - Moorhead campus. Other students are being dispersed to other work sites in Fargo and Moorhead. The college is providing skid-steer loaders from its diesel technology program and other equipment to assist with efforts. Students of the culinary arts program are busy making sandwiches and other food for distribution to volunteers by the Salvation Army in Fargo.

Students and staff from the Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls campuses are also pitching in. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the M State-Wadena campus is sending a bus of 47 students and staff to assist at the Moorhead campus.

The college has launched a Web page to communicate current flood-related information to students, staff, and community members at www.minnesota.edu/flood.

As a member of the Minnesota State College and Universities System, M State serves more than 6,500 students in credit courses each term through more than 120 career and liberal arts programs at its four campuses located in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead, and Wadena, and online. By partnering with communities, the college also provides custom training services and other responsive training programs.

 

Flood Update for M State Moorhead

Classes will resume on Monday, March 21st as scheduled. As this time, there are no plans to cancel classes for sandbagging efforts. However, in the event of an emergency situation requiring significant volunteer help, these plans could change. Please check this site regularly for updates regarding campus operations during the projected flood.
At a news conference on Thursday, March 17th, the City of Moorhead noted that they will be releasing sandbags to private property owners on Thursday, March 24th. It is expected that volunteers will be needed by some property owners, but this will be coordinated by FirstLink (see link on left). It is also likely that sandbag palleting will continue at the Moorhead sandbagging site. We do encourage student clubs and organizations to consider volunteering in these efforts as their schedules permit. The city currently has over 1 million sandbags in reserve and is working toward a goal of 1.5 million.
As an FYI, the Moorhead campus elevation is approximately 48-49 feet, considerably above any anticipated flood levels.

Last modified: March 18th, 2011 at 02:18pm