M State students reach out to Red River Valley
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. Students at M State Wadena helped in the sandbagging effort in Moorhead Wednesday.
"We've had a phenomenal turnout from the community," 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 canceled 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," said Dr. 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."
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.