Sad truth: Floods bring out the best in all of us
As the Red runs amok inside its narrow channel through Fargo-Moorhead, threatening to break out with a vengeance and already surpassing historic levels, we can't help but be touched by the thousands of random acts of kindness visited upon those towns.
And as the river bears down on Grand Forks, people, like the floodwaters, will once again rise to the occasion further north.
Minnesota's school kids, college students, firefighters, church groups and people we don't even know about have traveled to Fargo-Moorhead to help with the monumental task of sandbagging, helping people move their belongings to higher levels, offering comfort and monetary support. It's Minnesota Nice on a new plateau.
At times like this, we forget that some of us have just lost our jobs, are steamed beyond measure about the AIG bonuses, are facing cuts to every governmental service we've gotten accustomed to and are concerned with the trillions of dollars our administration is spending to bail us out of a self-inflicted mess.
We set aside differences about wars overseas and focused on one in our back yards.
One lousy river yanked our collective psyche back to what really matters. It brought us together, made us strong beyond belief and gave us a resiliency we didn't think possible. We set aside our depression, our anger, our uncertainty and replaced them with a steely-eyed resolve.
Flood fighting is backbreaking and mind numbing. Just like the shifting ground underneath, it erodes the soul of individuals and communities. It's relentless. And it doesn't give up after the waters recede.
Our neighbors to the west have shown amazing spirit as the flood crests have gradually risen to impossible levels; a perverse form of water torture. Red River Valley residents have no choice but to hang in there, dispirited, discouraged and bone-weary to the core.
But as they refuse to give up - it's really not an option. They continue in turn to be gracious recipients of the benefits strangers are offering. We can't give up on them now.
No matter how this all turns out, they will continue to need our compassion, our charity, our strong backs and arms, our prayers and our support.
We've already proved we're up to the task. We now need to assist Grand Forks once again after the water leaves Fargo-Moorhead.
There have been many parallels and differences drawn between this and the flood of 1997. The common thread has been caring.
Grand Forks residents were overwhelmed in 1997 when busloads of Minnesotans arrived with cheerful smiles and can-do attitudes. Grand Forks folks had thought the flood battle was theirs alone to win or lose. They were so wrong.
The F-M area has now discovered that same spirit of giving. But we should be mindful that the cleanup is also a long arduous process; we must be there in that time of need, too.
We can't abandon the flooded just because the last sandbag has been dropped into place. These Red River towns will need us in the future, perhaps more than they did in the recent past.