Students in the cities, parents in the flood

University students face separation from their flooding hometown.

North Fargo resident and schoolteacher Cathy Speral writes messages on sandbags late Thursday evening at the Fargodome. Speral said she hoped it would boost the spirits of volunteers working on the front lines.

Matt Mead

North Fargo resident and schoolteacher Cathy Speral writes messages on sandbags late Thursday evening at the Fargodome. Speral said she hoped it would boost the spirits of volunteers working on the front lines.

FARGO, N.D. âÄì When the Fargodome event center transformed last week into a sandbag factory in an effort to keep the city dry, Cathy Speral spent long hours there making her own contribution to the effort. While Speral wrote messages of encouragement on the sandbags, like âÄúBuild That Dike!âÄù and âÄúThanksâÄù alongside her sandbag-slinging husband, their daughter sat anxiously in Minneapolis, waiting for flood updates.

The message âÄúBUILD THAT DIKE!âÄù is written on a sandbag Thursday at the Fargodome.
MATT MEAD, DAILY

University of Minnesota psychology sophomore Kaitlyn Speral has been talking to her parents every day. She said she wishes she was in Fargo helping them, but they cautioned her against coming back because of road closures that made getting home âÄúnext to impossible.âÄù âÄúItâÄôs really difficult actually, you just feel kind of helpless,âÄù Kaitlyn Speral said by phone from Minneapolis. âÄúI really wanted to go back and a lot of my friends here from Fargo really want to go back too. WeâÄôre kind of in a difficult position.âÄù The SperalsâÄô north Fargo home is surrounded by water. A tube dike has kept the house dry, at least for now, but neighborhood residents are no longer able to easily leave. âÄúMy mom sent me pictures, and I want to see the water around our house but it also makes me even more nervous because IâÄôm not there,âÄù Kaitlyn Speral said. âÄúWater is feet away.âÄù In south Fargo, an earthen dike has cropped up in Pam Boen âÄôs backyard. Her husband has worked around the clock with neighbors to keep water that seeps through sandbag barriers pumping back into the flooded Oak Creek, which connects to the Red River. Their daughter Tessa, an advertising sophomore, stayed in the Twin Cities and has relied on brief updates from her parents to understand whatâÄôs happening in her hometown. Tessa Boen said though her basement bedroom has been cleared, she has no reason to worry. âÄúI think my parents have been staying really calm,âÄù she said. âÄúI wouldâÄôve been really freaked out if I thought there was a chance my family was going to get hurt.âÄù Kaitlyn Speral said her parents have also been even-keeled in the face of the disaster. âÄúI feel like theyâÄôre trying to downplay it a little bit for my sake so I donâÄôt worry so much about it,âÄù she said, recalling that her family lived through the 1997 flood. âÄúHaving confidence that my parents know what theyâÄôre doing. TheyâÄôve prepared for an emergency like that, and that makes me more confident.âÄù Joe Herman , an English junior, and his fraterniaty brothers from Delta Kappa Epsilon had planned to drive to the Fargo-Moorhead area to help sandbag on Saturday morning, but he said his parents told him it wasnâÄôt worth coming back. If a levee breaks, his familyâÄôs home on the river will be flooded, and they didnâÄôt want him to be there if they had to evacuate. Over the weekend, National Guardsman and volunteers erected eight-foot barriers around the HermansâÄô neighborhood to help control the nearby flooded river. Behind the HermansâÄô, a nearly five-feet-high sandbag dike has held the overflow. âÄîKarlee Weinmann is a senior staff reporter. Tiffany Smith contributed to this report.