WDAY: The News Leader

Published April 04, 2013, 09:58 PM

Wahpeton students stepping up to sandbag, just in case

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - While sandbag central is packed full in Fargo, people living near Wahpeton are coming together to sandbag for their smaller communities.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - While sandbag central is packed full in Fargo, people living near Wahpeton are coming together to sandbag for their smaller communities.

Richland County officials asked volunteers to fill 5,000 sandbags this afternoon at the Wahpeton Senior Citizens Center.

The county's effort is a smaller scale operation compared to Fargo's and instead of using automatic sandbagging machines, like the spider, people who came to help out brought their own gloves and shovels to do most of the work by hand.

Brett Lambrecht, Richland Co. Emergency Management Dir.: “That's why we're kind of doing this as an extra precaution. Hopefully we don't have to use them but it's nice to have a peace of mind that we got extra equipment and extra sandbags and we're all ready to go if we need to, you know.”

Lambrecht says about seven cities in the county usually see flooding even though most are protected by dikes and levees. Nearly 50 students from the Wahpeton community were first in line to help out.

All working for the same goal; to fill 5,000 sandbags in less than four hours.

Wahpeton's Circle of Nations School sent almost 40 students with others coming from Wahpeton elementary and middle schools. And by the looks of it, these kids had some fun, while getting their hands dirty.

Jake Pfaff, Wahpeton 6th Grader: "Well, filling some sandbags."

With a goal on his mind, and shovel in hand, Jake Pfaff is working alongside his two brothers and school buddies, digging in to make sure the city is safe from flooding.

Pfaff: "When you get everybody to help, it's a lot easier than having a couple of people here."

Thirty-six students from Circle of Nations, grades 5 through 8, also joined in.

Desmond Jordan, Circle of Nations 7th Grader: "There's probably going to be a flood, so I think it'd be good to do it."

BlueArm: "Helping for the community."

Kids of different ages, backgrounds, and shoveling abilities, all putting their hands together to make up the majority of Richland County's sandbagging volunteers.

Chris Kappes, Circle of Nations Dorm Manager: "We've helped out in the past and I know it's something the students don't necessarily look at it as work, they look at it as fun."

Jordan: "I just like being with my friends and helping out people."

Student after student, one after another, all digging in, dumping sand and hauling bags by hand, rather than machine.

Kappes: "Ask me tomorrow, I'll probably feel it tomorrow."

And even though the county cannot afford a large automated system like Fargo's, the hard work put in by these kids may make for an even better learning experience.

Kappes: "When they're older and they understand the severity of a flood, a possibility or an actual flood, and they'll say I remember when I was at Circle of Nations School and we helped out the community with sandbagging."

Students were able to reach the goal of 5,000 sandbags in just two hours.

Tonight was the only night Richland County plans to sandbag unless the flood turns out to be worse than expected. That's when emergency work will come in.