Local residents help fight floods waters

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 04/15/97.

With the lakes and rivers rising across the state, area residents volunteered their services to help where needed. Local residents helped at Montevideo, Granite Falls, Moorhead and on the shores of Lake Koronis and Rice Lake.

Mel and Brian Jones, Paynesville Excavating, worked in Montevideo on Sunday, April 6. ďThey had put out a plea for loader operators,Ē Mel Jones said. ďWe headed over there, but they had plenty of operators, so we sandbagged. It was kind of fun. We worked on the same dike for eight hours. It was really neat seeing 300 people form a chain to pass sandbags to where they were needed because you couldnít get there with equipment,Ē

Jones said everybody working was in a good mood. ďThe flood really brought the community together. You had bankers, doctors, teachers, laborers all working side by side,Ē he added.

Ross Amundson, a Paynesville attorney, left for Moorhead on Wednesday, April 9, to help his brother-in-law sandbag his house. ďHe called in a panic for help,Ē Amundson said. Steve Swenson went with Amundson to Moorhead. They worked until 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and had to call it quits when they ran out of sand. Their next load wouldnít arrive until 7:30 a.m. ďAs we were the only place with sand in the morning, we had a lot of help as a bus load of volunteers stopped to lend a hand.Ē

ďIt was pretty amazing to see the Red River 20 feet above normal. They were expecting the river to crest at 38 feet,Ē Amundson said. His brother-in-law lives a quarter mile from the river and his area has never flooded in the past.

Steve Brisendine, Paynesville Community Education director, helped sandbag in Granite Falls on Sunday, April 6, from 6 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. He returned home to New London then returned again Monday afternoon.

ďIt was pretty wild in Granite Falls,Ē Brisendine said of his hometown. ďI was there in 1969 and found this flood unbelievably worse. In 1969 only a small portion of the walking bridge was under water. This year, the entire bridge was under. Brisendine added that in 1969 the sandbag wall on Minnesota Street, which was seen on television quite a bit, was only three to four feet high. This year it was 18 feet high.
After sandbagging Sunday night, on Monday he helped a friend who owns a hardware store deliver sump pumps to areas where they were needed the most.

Larry Prentice, rural Paynesville, worked the entire weekend, Friday to Monday, in Granite Falls hauling dirt to dikes. ďTruckers worked in 24-hour shifts,Ē he said. ďIt was really something to see all the volunteers working together. The volunteers were from all over.Ē

Chris and Jim Sogge, rural Hawick, boarded a bus in Willmar around 4 p.m. on Monday, April 7, and headed to Granite Falls to help sandbag. ďWe filled sandbags at the city garage with 150 other people,Ē Chris Sogge said. ďTwo city dump trucks kept bringing more sand to the volunteers. By the time we were done, pallets filled with sandbags covered an area the size of a football field.Ē

Locally, the middle school students filled about 3,000 sandbags with 77 yards of sand on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Wayne Hansen, teacher and Lake Koronis resident, organized the students to help save several homes from rising lake water. The students helped sandbag at the homes of Tom Peterson, Pat Flanders, LouAnn Fahlberg, Tom Woelfe, Floyd Hurd, Elaine Pfeifer, Mike Mackedanz, Frances Bue and an Ampe cabin on Rice Lake.

Donating the sand for the project was New London Materials, parent company of Paynesville Redi-Mix; Paynesville Excavating donated their trucks to haul the sand, Yarmon Ford and Mercury donated a pickup truck and trailer to haul the sandbags to the lake, Keith Lang and Steve Stelling also donated trailers to haul sandbags.

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