The Rooster Crows – April 1, 2009

By Bill Anderson

“Tough times don’t last.  Tough people do,” says the Rev. Robert Shuler. A brutal winter, the worst since 1996-’97, ended on March 20 and has been followed by a Spring that has turned into a cruel April Fool’s joke. Temperatures into the 50’s for a few days turned the 6 feet of snow that fell during the Winter into rapidly moving floodwaters, sweeping away approaches and culverts, as well as County and Township roads. Two miles south of Rutland, the rampaging Wild Rice River undermined County Road #10 and then swept it away on Wednesday, March 25, leaving a yawning chasm, through which the foaming, frigid waters of the normally placid stream roared, in their headlong rush to reach the Red River, Lake Winnipeg and Hudson’s Bay. Damage to Township roads has been even more extensive, and caution is advised when traveling throughout the area, especially when crossing water covered roads, as the road may have been washed away. In Rutland, Mayor Narum spent several days pumping water backed up by frozen culverts away from residential areas.  Other than the normal spring seepage into a few basements, no serious water damage has been reported in town. To the north, our neighbors in Milnor spent most of the week of March 21-27 sandbagging and diking to protect their community from the rising waters of Storm Lake. An exhaustive, round the clock effort saved Milnor and the City officials, employees and volunteers who accomplished the feat deserve a pat on the back and a hearty, “Job well done!” from their fellow Sargent County citizens. A number of volunteers from Rutland went up to Milnor to assist with the flood fight there. Further to the north, the City of Fargo made national news headlines with its fight to save North Dakota’s largest city from the floodwaters of the overflowing Red River of the North. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” the old-timers used to say, and Fargo proved to be tougher than whalebone, as thousands of volunteers from the city, from throughout the tri-state region and from across the nation poured in to fill sandbags, build dikes and evacuate threatened homes. Rutland native and current Fargo resident Gary Narum (RHS Class of ’60) reports that he spoke with volunteers from Chicago, Minneapolis, Manitoba and even Rutland while he was working on sandbag dikes on Fargo’s south side. Gary said that he saw several volunteers wearing the distinctive Rutland-Cayuga Fire Department shirts working on the dikes. Among the volunteers from Rutland who participated in the Fargo flood fight were: Cameron Gulleson; Jim Fust; Peder Gulleson; Trent Mahler; Paul Anderson; Mitch Mahrer; Mike Mahrer; Kyle Mahrer; Rob Wyum; Mike Kulzer; Diane Kulzer; and, a number of others whose names are not known by this reporter. As a punctuation mark to the flood disaster, Mother Nature gifted the area with a snowstorm that deposited anywhere from a foot to 26 inches of wet, heavy snow on the 30 & 31 of March, the ultimate April Fool’s joke for shovelers on the morning of Wednesday, April 1. Certainly, when compared to some other natural disasters that have occurred in this nation in recent years, North Dakotans can be proud of the way they have conducted themselves in facing this crisis. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” it has been said, and there is no doubt that those who have endured and survived the Winter and Spring of ’08-’09 are the stronger for it. They have earned the titles of Tough, Hardy and, in some cases, even Heroic. For the vast majority of the volunteers who fought the flood, their only reward will be the satisfaction of knowing that, in a time of crisis and need, they came to the aid of their neighbors, and prevailed. When this crisis ends, as it soon will, North Dakotans will pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, repair the damage, go back about their normal lives and start preparing for the next test.  That next tough time won’t last, either, but the tough people will.

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