When a community is under siege—as during a major flood—we discover what motivates us. I’m not normally into community pride, but throughout the last week I’ve been proud of Fargo, Moorhead, and the surrounding cities (we live in West Fargo).
I say this though we’ve not personally been part of the battle. We’re adjacent to Fargo but a long way from the Red River of the North. Our closest river, the Sheyenne, was the source of frequent floods in the past so a huge diversion project was built a number of years ago.
Ken and I, feeling we can’t to do anything physical to help others, listen to the news and do our part by praying and by staying off the streets so we don’t interfere.
Nevertheless, the flood has been difficult. We feel for those evacuated, including a couple we met at church whom we’ve learned to love. We wonder where they are and how they’re faring. We feel for a young friend who’s given herself to help by preparing food. And, I have to admit a selfish preoccupation. I feel for myself because I’m reliving another flood.
In 1997, Ken and I were in the process of retiring. We’d accepted an offer on our home in Wahpeton, a house just three blocks from the river—but the sale hadn’t closed. We were in danger of losing what, to us, was a great deal of money when the Red River of the North rose to unprecedented levels at that time.
Now memories surface as we watch newscasts and see fatigue in the faces of people on the front lines. Fatigue is the common denominator among the workers and homeowners during a flood—because vigilance is required over an extended time period.
When I think back, I realize we were strong, able to carry the load. But what struck me most this week is that in 1997 we had other issues that overruled the flood. Life goes on, even during a life-and-death struggle.
Our daughter Sarah (then 22 years old) lived abroad. She had fallen in love with a national and talked about living in Indonesia the rest of her life. Then, retirement required huge adjustments, and we were making a decision about where to live. We couldn’t deal with our past—not even our recent past—because we needed to move forward.
Now, during this flood, two of our grandchildren—the ones living in Fargo—have worked on sandbagging crews. Matt is a senior and Emily a freshman. Patty, their mom, says they came home tired and sore—but they had a good time. They worked with friends and attitudes were great. She added that they’ve learned so much about teamwork when passing sandbags from person to person across yards and around houses. They’ve accomplished something that couldn’t be done any other way. I’m so proud of their willingness to put themselves on the line (pun intended), but I also remember how, in 1997, high school students sandbagged around our house.
The world seems awed by the effort to control this flood. Our son living in the United Arab Emirates saw coverage on international channels and called to make sure we were okay. Sarah, now living in Las Vegas with her Chinese Indonesian husband and their children, called again last night to tell us she keeps hearing about us on the news. Then I remembered we made international news in 1997, too; she called from Indonesia after seeing coverage on an international news program.
Our daughter in Minot has called. Siblings have called. Cousins have called. Friends from the past have called. History repeats itself.
Sarah has lived in a number of states as well as in a foreign country—and she says the rest of the world should learn from North Dakotans. “In North Dakota,” she’ll say, “things are done in a way that makes sense.”
Well, good sense surely isn’t limited to North Dakota—or northwest Minnesota. But this flood-control effort supports her statement. It’s enough to make a citizen proud.
While on my way to read about the flood of Noah I stumbled onto this verse at the very beginning of Genesis: And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:2b ESV)
It’s hard to visualize God hovering over the Red during this flood. We only need to remember that God used the chaos as material for His creation. He brought order. In one sense, we can say our officials have created order out of chaos during this massive effort. But looking beyond, will something entirely different be created in the aftermath of this flood?
Of course, engineers will think about contingencies for possible future floods. However, I want to look at spiritual order. Behind the physical realm we have a spiritual realm. What is God doing in that arena while people fight for what they know and love? What order might God bring to Fargo, Moorhead, and surrounding communities? Will we be interested in what He offers? Will we be willing to receive it?
Maybe He’ll bring an awakening as people use common sense and begin to seek God.
8 years ago