Students head north to help with flood

The Fargo-Moorhead area is expected to be hit later this week.

While Fargo-Moorhead area colleges have canceled classes, University of Minnesota students will have to skip them to help out with the flood expected to hit the region later this week. At least forty students from the UniversityâÄôs Morris campus have headed north to fill and place sandbags, and a number of Twin Cities students are planning to do so as soon as their class schedules allow. First-year student Michelle Schultz , who is from Fargo, said she expects to head home sometime on Thursday to help sandbag before the river crests. If it werenâÄôt for class, sheâÄôd already be helping out at home, she said. âÄúI hate being in Minneapolis watching my city needing help and I canâÄôt be there,âÄù she said.

English junior Joe HermanâÄôs family lost its house in the 1997 floods, and now their home is being threatened again. They moved into another house on the river, Herman said, and though their yard is full of water, the house is being kept âÄúrelatively dry.âÄù He said about half of his Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity plan to head to Fargo Saturday morning, he said. Though only four are from the Fargo area, he said many of his fraternity brothers want to help out too. âÄúI wish I could be there, doing more,âÄù he said, but SaturdayâÄôs the earliest he can leave. âÄúIâÄôve been through this before and I donâÄôt want to lose another house.âÄù But at least one University student is obligated to miss class and help out. Political science junior Mike Kelleher was on a class break Monday morning when he got a phone call from his U.S. Coast Guard Reserve chief saying he should be prepared to go north to help. His chief called him again a couple hours later to let him know that he and others from his unit were being called right away to the Red River Valley. âÄúI just started grabbing stuff out of my closet, typing e-mails to all my professors,âÄù he said. He found his professors were understanding about a previous Coast Guard obligation, he said, and he expects to be able to make up the work heâÄôs missing when he returns. Kelleher said he expects to be gone between two and four weeks. His orders right now go until April 3, he said, but could be shortened or extended. He and seven other reservists from his unit deployed to Fergus Falls last night and traveled this morning to Fargo, where theyâÄôve been on standby so far. When the flood hits, though, he said he and his colleagues will use special shallow-water boats to help remove people, animals and things from places made inaccessible by the water, or to secure debris that could cause damage. He said heâÄôs heard from others who helped out during the 1997 flooding that basically, âÄúyouâÄôre just there to help whoever needs it.âÄù

And thatâÄôs what about 40 University of Minnesota-Morris students are doing. Though a Fox9 .com news report that stated the Morris campus had canceled classes was incorrect, students are taking time out to help sandbag in Breckenridge , Minn., and Fargo . The confusion apparently arose after the Office of Student Activities issued a call for students interested in volunteering. Carol McCannon , a student activities program adviser, said about 20 students, including the womenâÄôs volleyball team, went to Breckenridge Monday to help fill sandbags. The volleyball team is trying to recruit a student in the area, she said, which is part of the reason the team wanted to help out there. Other students contacted the office saying they wanted to help out in Fargo, so Morris sent another 20 students to the Fargodome Tuesday. There, volunteers are sent to unload, place or fill sandbags depending on whatâÄôs most urgently needed, McCannon said. She said she doesnâÄôt know if Morris will be sending more students in the coming days, and noted that Concordia College , North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University-Moorhead have all canceled classes so student volunteers could help out. The need for sandbags is big, she said âÄî itâÄôs risen from an originally estimated 1.2 million bags to 3 million. As for the Morris volunteers, McCannon said âÄúItâÄôs hard for people to just walk away from classes âĦ so the 40 kids that are going from here, thatâÄôs a big sacrifice from them.âÄù ItâÄôs hard work, too, said University alumnus Greg Tehven . Working with Students Today Leaders Forever âÄî the national nonprofit he helped found âÄî Tehven helped organize about 800 college and high school students from the Fargo-Moorhead area last weekend, he said. He helped fill sandbags and build dikes for the past couple days before returning to Minneapolis today, and said heâÄôll be organizing flood volunteers this week and after the river crests. âÄúItâÄôs very hard work, itâÄôs very taxing on the body âĦ but itâÄôs kind of a special feeling, where you feel as if people are coming together to help each other out,âÄù Tehven said. âÄúTheyâÄôre just getting after it and getting it done.âÄù