I just returned home from visiting my parents in Fargo, ND. We went there this weekend wanting to help my family and others try and save their homes and community from the highest flood waters ever recorded. I left there impressed, inspired, and full of hope for a community that doesn't know how to give up.
We had the opportunity to visit the home of Jay Olsen in Fargo. He is the brother of my mom's best friend Jamie, and he, like so many others, is experiencing the battle of a lifetime.
He used to be able to walk out of his basement, sit on his patio, and off in the distance, watch the water tickling the shores of his property.
Now he walks out to this.
Two friends of Jay's are helping 'man' the pumps, a twenty-four hour a day job. Water is seeping through the retaining wall and in some spots, the sandbag dike.
Right on the other side of this temporary wall is the powerful Red River.
Jay and his friends, family, and neighbors started building this wall just a week ago.
My father, my husband, and my brother in law were able to go and help with the shifts. They took the 10:00pm to 2:00am shift. Even though it was hard, I know they wished they could do so much more.
I was able to stand in the very spot my father is standing here… and was able to really feel the danger of the situation. It was an awe-inspiring yet terrifying site.
The people that patrol the dikes, who watch out for leaks, are willingly in harms way every moment they are there.
It was one thing to see the Corp of Engineers patrolling, or the National Guard, but quite another to see citizens, homeowners, fathers and neighbors, putting themselves in danger for a greater good.
This was 'command central' at the Olsen home. It was often necessary to be inside because of the frigid temperatures. It was also necessary to bring sandbags inside to warm them up, as they do not work if frozen.
You still get an amazing view from this picturesque window in Jay's empty house. Where was once a beautiful dining room table is now a worn footpath.
Even though the river has gone down a foot or so, the fight is not over for this family, and so many others. They still have a week or more of high waters to deal with… they still have to 'man' the pumps, to stay up for days on end, work through snow storms and poor weather conditions, to mentally prepare themselves for the worst while hoping for the best, to offer up prayers and thanksgiving, to find in themselves the courage and perseverance to keep on.
If you can, say a prayer for the folks of Minnesota and North Dakota that are facing this awesome battle.