Students mobilize to keep Fargo dry
1 million sandbags filled in N.D. city
FARGO, N.D. — Some children lugged sandbags that weighed more than they did. Determined teens showed up just after dawn, ready and willing to shovel. New groups of kids arrived by the busloads, all ready to join the race to protect their city from the rising Red River.
This week, thousands of volunteers filled sandbags to be stacked along the river and near endangered homes as Fargo faces the threat of a severe flood. The river is expected to crest Sunday. But at the heart of that volunteer corps are the city’s youngest citizens.
It’s a job that elsewhere might be reserved for emergency workers. But here, students can be excused from class with their parents’ permission and join the hundreds of adults, local workers, and others who took on the task of filling a million sandbags. The group met that goal yesterday, three days ahead of schedule.
“They pretty much have saved our community,’’ said David Stark, 62, who worked beside hundreds of student volunteers this week.
Michael Russell, 14, did not mind missing a day of school to get dirty filling sandbags. He guessed many would end up near his own home or his friends’ homes.
“I think I’m helping the city and my friends,’’ he said.
Jaclynn Powers, 18, another student, said she was sore from her second straight day of filling bags, but didn’t want to miss the action.
“I went to school for a couple hours yesterday and there was like four kids in each class,’’ Powers said. “I feel it’s more important right now to help out the community.’’
The students are providing critical manpower. Since March 1, volunteers have been bused to “Sandbag Central,’’ an arena-size building normally used to house 25 garbage trucks. There, with the help of machines and volunteers, up to 100,000 sandbags can be filled in a 12-hour shift. Fifty volunteers can fill about 1,000 sandbags an hour. More than 1,000 children and teens have participated in the effort.
Chase Martin, 13, said it was easy work.
“They asked our school to help, so we are,’’ he said.