Our view: Friends come out in times of adversity – especially as floodwaters rise

Around these parts, there are many friends in times of adversity, and it’s heartening to see them answer the call to help in a time of need.

Herald pull quote, 5/4/22
Herald graphic

Dozens – possibly as many as 100 – residents of Pembina County and others came together over the weekend to fill and hoist sandbags in a scene that must be strikingly familiar to residents of Greater Grand Forks.

They did it as the waters of the nearby Tongue River rose after another 2-plus inches of rain fell on the region Friday through Sunday.

Last week, sandbaggers were mustered to fight rising waters in Crookston, where the Red Lake River, suddenly and startlingly, gulped up city parks and private properties that prior to last week weren’t considered waterfront locations.

And in Fisher, Minnesota, more than 100 residents, students and good samaritans came together to sandbag dikes that protect the small town from the Red Lake River. They did this work as ice formed on the mud along the dikes, making for treacherous footing. Snow flurries and frigid wind gusts added to the miserable conditions.

In Minto, North Dakota, two or three dozen Minto High School students filled sandbags at the Minto Fire Station as the Forest River rose nearby. It eventually flooded a few residential streets, but the work of the students didn’t go without praise.


"They've been nonstop working," Minto Fire Chief Mark Wilson said. "They barely even stopped to eat — they'd grab a slice of pizza and keep on going."

And said Crookston Police Chief Darin Selzler: “It's amazing to be part of a community like that where everybody steps up and comes out when needed. It never ceases to surprise. Everybody loves this community ... and they're willing to step up and do whatever is needed. It's great to see."

Yes, it is. And it’s happening throughout the region in recent days as residents endure two weekends of heavy rains, preceded by a nasty spring blizzard that brought a foot of snow to many parts of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

In East Grand Forks and Grand Forks, flood protection systems have greatly mitigated the likelihood of devastating floods, like the historic Flood of 1997. Those permanent walls and dikes give Greater Grand Forks residents no little peace of mind, even during what before 1997 would have been considered massive flooding. But most people in this flood-prone region don’t have that luxury, and their only recourse is to don their waterproof boots and get their hands dirty, usually in terrible conditions.

We appreciate their efforts and especially the work done by people who have volunteered simply out of respect for those who have so much to lose.

Remember the quote by former President Ulysses Grant: “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who have helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”

Around these parts, there are many friends in times of adversity, and it’s heartening to see them answer the call to help in a time of need.

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