This morning, as I drove my kids to school heading east, I had to pull down the sun visor. Indeed, the sun was peeking at us, and the rain had stopped, offering hope. But as I peer out the window now, the gray has returned and more rain or possibly snow is predicted. Some much-needed dry days should follow.
As I followed the trail to school, the side street where I typically drop off my kids seemed unusually quiet, devoid the usual dotting of vehicles along the curb. As I wound through to the end of that street on my way to my oldest son’s school, the “Road Closed” sign appeared. Up ahead and across the road, I spotted something new: an unusual fence. Several blocks beyond that lies the Red River. Apparently, the fence had been built overnight as a flood wall. And just now, I read in the newspaper that the fence is a Hesco Concertainer flood barrier. Hesco units were designed to protect U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now have found a way to help another kind of battle. The rectangular units, which connect to form a wall and are made of a Galfan-coated welded mesh frame, are open in the center and filled with sand.
We did a U-turn to reach an alternative route, and on our way, noticed the sandbag walls along Rose Creek. Yesterday, I’d seen people working in that area — one of many spots in our city that had collected a band of volunteers. In addition to that, evidence of newly constructed levees are all over the streets in the form of mud that has been left behind and flattened by vehicles. It’s a dirty mess wherever you look, between the mostly-melted but brown snow, squashed sandbags and mud from levee dirt. But all of this points to a city and military working mighty hard to keep us from drowning.
Yesterday, while traveling along a business area that sports a huge, digital billboard sign touting things like the next concert and Hooters specials (always lovely to see when you’re driving with your young children), I noticed the message had changed: “Sandbaggers FARGODOME overnight help critical.” A friend of mine was at the Fargodome much of the day yesterday, working her tail off with her daughter. Here’s an excerpt of the email she sent this morning:
“H held and tied bags last night for about 2 hours and A’s going to do the same with us after supper; they are a great age for that. I can’t lift bags in a line so have been going to filling places and H was really big help to several of us fillers holding and tying. If you have kids…it’s warm there, there’s food, seats for them to chill if they are pooped (or if you are!), music pumpin’ and sandwiches. I know they were uncertain if they’d hit the needed 300,000 a day mark and I hear from the press conference over 400,000 were made- I teared up when I heard that and gave H a fist pump. Pretty cool that they tore up the turf and just made
it into sand central #2 there on floor of the dome!”
As always, it’s heartening to hear the stories: of employers letting their employees leave work to help, schools releasing students to sandbag, and all the efforts being made to save lives and homes. My son is out there today with his classmates, building a sandbag barrier around their school. I’m sure it’s something he will never forget: the flood of 2009, just as I can still recall so many details of the 1997 flood and its aftermath. It’s stressful, but the good always prevails in tough times. Watching people work together and love one another is inspiring.
Personally, I am laying low because, after yesterday, I realized that home is the best place I can be right now. I am staying close to my communication devices, waiting to hear word on whether my author visit will happen. This morning, I received an email from the coordinator, and at least part of the event has been canceled due to evacuation of some of the students in Jamestown from possible flooding. Snow is still predicted in that area in the coming day or so, too, so…still up in the air. I also heard parts of the Interstate are flooded and closed, so I might not be able to get there even if I tried.
Update: Just in, an email with a request that we reschedule the entire three-school author visit. Deja vu, but I think it’s a good idea. I wasn’t relishing the thought of being away from my family during this time of uncertainty.
I hope to be back later today with thoughts on how children’s and adults’ views of natural disaster differ from one another.
Peace be with you…