Area firefighters battle new foe: Fargo FloodEveryone knows that where there’s smoke, there’s fire; and where there’s fire, there are firefighters.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Everyone knows that where there’s smoke, there’s fire; and where there’s fire, there are firefighters.
But firefighters also know how to fight more than just smoke and flames. They know how to fight floods – or at least they know to help out when they are needed.
Last Friday, Scott Schaefer called upon firefighters from around the Douglas County area to go Moorhead to help out with flood relief efforts.
Schaefer is not only the chief of the Brandon Fire Department; he is the fire training coordinator for the Alexandria Technical College.
About 100 men and women from various fire departments, including Brandon, Garfield, Forada, Evansville, Kensington, Miltona and Parkers Prairie took off Friday evening for Moorhead. Firefighters from Alexandria and Osakis joined the effort as well.
One Kensington firefighter, Karin Anderson, shared her experience with the Echo Press.
Anderson said the group arrived in Moorhead around 10 p.m., started working almost immediately and then finally quit around 3 a.m.
Many of the firefighters patrolled sandbag dikes around residential neighborhoods. When they saw a leak, they would promptly start sandbagging – something they did plenty of, said Anderson.
“We walked behind people’s homes to make sure the dikes were staying,” she said, noting that if the dikes were to break, “You would be running for your life.”
For precautionary measures, Anderson said the firefighters had lifejackets close at hand, just in case.
When it came time to finally go to sleep, Anderson said most of the firefighters, and not just those from Douglas County, stayed at a high school that the Red Cross turned into a sleep center with plenty of cots to choose from.
Although the Douglas County group went to sleep at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, Anderson said they were up at 6 a.m. to start working all over again.
“It was really interesting and amazing to see how many firefighters from around the state that were there helping out,” she said. “They came from all over.”
Anderson also commented on the “regular people” that would drive around and offer food to those who were working – burgers off the grill, bars, cookies and much more. They would also offer workers the use of their bathrooms – no matter how muddy the workers were, she said.
“This one woman told us we could just go in and use her bathroom anytime – with our muddy boots on and all. She didn’t even care,” said Anderson.
She added, “The people up there were amazing. I have never seen anything like this before.”
Another amazing sight Anderson talked about was the ice shelves. She explained that as the river receded, ice shelves would form on the trees at the various levels.
“It looked like mushroom fungus,” she said. “It was really neat to see.”
After working in the Moorhead area for two long days, Anderson didn’t quite get enough. On Tuesday, she headed back, but this time to the Breckenridge area. Kensington Fire Chief Joey Nessman, joined Anderson on that trip. This time, however, she was there as part of the Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division.
Instead of helping out with sandbagging efforts, Anderson said they helped with running pumps to keep water out of people’s homes.
As of Wednesday, she was still there, keeping an eye on the pumps to make sure the water levels stay down.
Unfortunately, she concluded, some homes have not been saved.