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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 18 2010

Organized chaos missing in this year’s fight

Wearing his “WDAY Flood Watch ’97” lime-green cap, Mark McCourt surveyed the lines of kids, the quickness of skid-steer loaders and the rising Red River in the distance.

One thing was missing from last year: organized chaos.

“Unfortunately, we’ve become experts at this,” McCourt said.

The flood-fighting ambiguity of his Woodcrest Drive cul-de-sac of a year earlier was replaced on Wednesday with a sense of calm and confidence.

For one, most residents only had to sandbag about a foot high – about three times less than last year.

For another, about 650 students and 30 staff members from Fargo North arrived in 10 buses ready for action.

“Fargo would be lost without the high school and college students,” said Mary Jane Dickson, who has lived at her South Woodcrest Drive house since 1970.

If this country needs to find more energy, perhaps somebody should figure out how to tap into students in times of crisis. On Tuesday night, North High physical education instructor Nancy Tidd ran a badminton tournament for students; it went on as scheduled, even though students sandbagged all day.

“Yet, they came to the tournament with all of this energy,” she said.

Tidd, a popular teacher, is perhaps more plugged in to the emotions of north Fargo kids than anybody else, and she said nobody got on a bus Wednesday morning with a nay-saying attitude.

“No complaining, no questions asked,” she said. “They just keep doing the job, and we are so proud of them. They’re just very giving.”

Sandbagging backyards on Woodcrest, Lilac Lane and Peterson Parkway was expected to be finished Wednesday. McCourt, for instance, ran a string on the height he was told he needed, and most of his yard only needed to be raised about 8 inches.

Most of the backyards in the high-elevation neighborhood are protected to about 39 feet. The crest is projected at 38 feet this weekend.

“If the river is nice to us, this will just be an insurance policy,” McCourt said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546