Sophomore volunteers for flood victims

Joe Kunitz

As the Red and Sheyenne Rivers continued to rise, threatening several cities in Minnesota and North Dakota, Benilde-St. Margaret’s student Carmen Aguirre went to Fargo, North Dakota to lend a hand.

After hearing that the situation was pretty bad from some friends who live there, Aguirre decided she wanted to help.  “We were going up to my cabin, which is near Fargo anyways,” said Aguirre, “So I thought it would be cool to go there and help out.”

While in Fargo, Aguirre spent her time filling sand bags and loading the bags onto trucks.  “You fill the bag, then pass it down the line, then carry to another person, then load it on the truck.  It takes a while because the bags weigh, like, 40 pounds, and there are 2400 bags on a truck,” said Aguirre.

The floods reached record heights and posed a serious threat to several cities––some even had to be evacuated during the worst of it.  “I talked to a lot of people who lived around the area.  They were cool; they would pull me aside and tell me stories about when they were young, and that it was nice of me to help out,” stated Aguirre.

The flood water reached a crest height of 40.8 feet, narrowly beating the record of 40.1 feet set in 1987.  Volunteers and National Guardsmen gathered in Fargo to help build up the sandbag levees that held back the icy water.

Volunteering was a positive experience for Aguirre.  “It was really different, it was like nothing you would expect,” she said.  “There was just a unified feeling; everyone working together and coming together to help each other and their neighbors.”

Her favorite parts of the trip were right when she arrived and when she swam in the flood waters.  “When we got there it was cool because we were taken into a special area because we were volunteers. I felt special.”  And the floodwater?  “It was really really cold, but it’s really fun to be able to say that I swam in the flood water.”