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Last week North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a flood emergency for 12 counties and the Spirit Lake Reservation, which currently face 50 percent or greater probability of exceeding moderate or major flood stage this spring.  Additional counties most likely will be added.

Rev. Rich Zeck, Fargo First UMC provides the following commentary about the impeding waters.


Dear Dakotas United Methodists,

Fourth time in  five years.  Fourth time in five  years!  Fourth time in five years!!!

If I have heard it once I have heard it said a thousand times in Fargo/Moorhead and the rest of the Red River Valley.  It is getting old, so old that most outside the Valley and many inside the Valley are not hearing the cry that it is.  Over the next 10 days or so Fargo/Moorhead will most likely experience its fourth major flood in five years.  A record flood, top five in our history flood and we have had some floods!   Over the next 10 days or so we will have made over 1 million sand bags, everyone by a volunteer that needs no training in how to do it.  My own senior in high school has spent hour after hour, week after week, year after year making and deploying and saving a city when I wish he could be thinking about prom or youth group or his last Easter at home before he heads off to college.  His entire high school career has been marked by the Red River roaring by.

Over the next 10 days or so each one of those bags along with 500,000 in reserve from 2011, those that did not go to Bismarck or Minot, will be handed from one soul to the next to the next and laid in place to save a city!   Each one of those 1.5 million bags picked up and tossed to the next soul and the next and the next, until a wall is built against the water. 

Thousands of sandwiches will be made, each one by hand to feed those souls out on a line.  Pumps will be staffed 24-7; dikes will be walked; National Guard troops will stand their posts next to fire fighters, engineers and our neighbors; families will be slit up as the older and the younger leave the danger and one or two stays behind to watch the Red River roar by.  Helicopters with ton sand bags overhead, main roads blocked off either by water or police escorts for truck drivers working non-stop shifts hauling clay or sandbags.  And instead of an offering plate donations will be made to help a neighbor who will lose an income or buy a pump, or support ones family as they must leave our city. 

On Easter Monday, I pulled my flood emergency kit from the shelf.  Went through it, restocked the food and water and batteries, read through our emergency evacuation plan with my 3rd grader, tried on my flood boots and rain coat and gloves.  I still have my red-handled-shovel sitting in my office from 09 next to my “United We Sand” yard sign, can’t seem to put it away. And my Dakota friends, if I hear from them, it usually starts out with why don’t you folks in Fargo just build your diversion and then they go on with how their day is going as I walk out my church door into my truck and over to spend a couple hours standing next to a few of my 8th grade confirmands filling sand bags.   A couple of Advil and five precious minutes with my family Sharing, Reading, Talking, Praying and a blessing will close my day. 

Don’t know if you heard, the Red River Valley, Fargo/Moorhead, my city, my community … its flooding again … “fourth time in five years.”  Pray for the Valley, and if you can we could sure use some prayers by those who can come and fill a sandbag, eat a sandwich on us, and toss a couple of hundred bags to the soul standing next to on a line somewhere in Cass or Clay county.  Those king of prayers by United Methodists are needed, even if we no longer make the news.  “Fourth time in Five years!”

Pastor Rich Zeck
First UMC, Fargo
Master sandbagger!


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