At least 10,000 volunteers turn out; more needed to fight flood
MOORHEAD - Buses could hardly keep up Monday with the thousands of volunteers eager to fill sandbags and fight the flood.
More than 10,000 people volunteered in Fargo-Moorhead, according to estimates from people coordinating the efforts. That doesn't include people helping out friends or family.
Local colleges and universities canceled classes to allow students to participate, and many employers excused workers to join the effort.
A line of students at North Dakota State University stretched about a block from the Old Main bus stop to Memorial Union.
Minnesota State University Moorhead's Nemzek Hall was the hub for local students and community members to volunteer.
There, as at NDSU, volunteers waited in long lines for buses to take them to work sites.
FirstLink also coordinated volunteers at several sites in the community, including the Fargodome.
Many volunteers came from outside Fargo-Moorhead, with more expected today.
Kay Schwarzwalter, who works in the state data center at NDSU, volunteered because of the ominous flood predictions.
"It's the urgency of it," she said. "Time is of the essence."
The outpouring of volunteers was so strong, it was more available than other resources in some areas.
In rural Cass County, a bus holding about 45 students from Casselton's Central Cass High School pulled in to Forest River Road near 76th Avenue South
shortly before 3 p.m. Because several houses didn't have enough sand, some students had nothing to do.
"It's not good," said senior Scott McConnell, "but there's nothing they can do about it."
Local high schools also sent busloads to help, including student athletes from Moorhead High.
"It's practice, it's just a different practice," Principal Gene Boyle said. "Our students will be learning as much or more about citizenship than we can teach them in the classroom."
Volunteers from outside Fargo-Moorhead had trouble finding hotel rooms Monday.
Fargo Public Schools made a gym available at Carl Ben Eielson Middle School for volunteers.
Presidents of local campuses said they were impressed by the volunteer turnout.
"It may be a really difficult time, but I've never seen so much good in a community as I've seen today," said MSUM President Edna Szymanski.
Forum reporters Kelly Smith and Dave Roepke contributed to this story.