Volunteers needed to fight flood
With the Red River expected to crest in Fargo-Moorhead at near-record levels on Saturday, Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kel Keena is organizing daily buses for volunteers to lay sandbag dikes.
A bus will leave at 5 p.m. each day from the Detroit Lakes Police Department at 106 Holmes Street East. It will return at 11 p.m.
The first busload went Tuesday, and there will be daily buses leaving at 5 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday.
This weekend, buses will roll twice a day -- from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"We're putting together a volunteer effort to bus people up there to help place sandbags," Keena said. "The biggest challenge is getting people to the right spot. We want to make sure there's no messing around."
Last year Keena worked it out so waivers were signed on the bus and the volunteers went straight to the neighborhoods where help was needed -- bypassing a time-consuming stop at Nemzek Fieldhouse at Minnesota State University Moorhead to sign waivers.
Volunteers can expect to work about a four-hour shift in wet, muddy conditions, and should bring outdoor work clothing including rubber boots, leather gloves and rain gear if needed, Keena said.
Volunteers should be comfortable lifting 25 or 30 pounds.
"We just make a big human chain and pass sandbags from hand-to-hand and it goes pretty good," Keena said.
Anderson Bus Company of Frazee is providing the transportation for free, Keena said.
The bus stays on-site, so people can warm up or rest in the bus if needed, he added.
Anderson donates the use of the buses.
"Last year they did it all volunteer, and they said 'whatever you need again this year, you got it,'" Keena said. "They're eating the fuel costs, the driver salaries -- it's pretty good of them."
In related news, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has activated the Minnesota National Guard for the 2010 flood fight, through his executive order declaring a state of emergency in 28 Minnesota counties affected by flooding.
More than 280 Minnesota Army National Guard soldiers from the Moorhead-based 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry have been alerted and are prepared to move to the Red River Valley if requested by local authorities.
The Minnesota National Guard, under the direction of the governor, will help with local flood fighting efforts.