« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Bob and Jeanne Swick, Moorhead, Published May 04 2013

Letter: Thanks to a unique community

We would like to thank some lovely people we encountered recently. After moving from out of state in 2008, we began volunteering with the local Salvation Army during the 2009 flood. This year, we worked on the Emergency Disaster Services Command team, an all-volunteer arm of the local corps office normally tasked with responding to area fires and other requests for assistance. This experience was like no other, affording us a look into the complex organizational structure that makes the Salvation Army so successful in disasters around the world. While some members of the EDS team are retired, the majority hold down full-time jobs while sharing their time and skills. Both of us feel very blessed to have been a small part of this talented group.

We’d like to personally thank our incident commander, Dave Hinkley, an organizational genius who was able to grasp hundreds of tiny pieces of information for the entire effort from city and county sources and calmly put them on a spreadsheet in 20 minutes and steer a clear course. I’m sure his employer, Border States Electric, already appreciates his talents, but we’d like to add our thanks as well.

EDS Operations Chief Bryan Hagen was equally unflappable, efficient and professional. Retired from the North Dakota Air Guard, Hagen combined his military expertise with his personal mantra for caring and giving. The rest of us were the beneficiaries of the talents of these two men.

Maj. Harold Baugh, an experienced corps officer, pulled out all the stops to help us; and Cassidy and Joe, besides working to feed hundreds every day in their small corps kitchen, willingly shared their space. Laura, corps volunteer coordinator, pulled the best volunteers out of her hat to make our work lighter – what a great job each of you did. Thanks, too, to the members of the Salvation Army Incident Management Assistance Team who arrived from many areas to lend their help. We’d also like to acknowledge the great interaction with our Red Cross friends, who have the same desire to serve.

I am particularly grateful to Terry and Magda and the membership of First Lutheran Church of Fargo; they produced 1,000 sandwiches an hour for a total of nearly 20,000 sandwiches this year. Astounding! I also interacted with many local businesses who donated food and services, gratis; thank you for your generosity.

Our biggest thanks go to our kids, the ones who gave of themselves and who are learning the lessons of community service at a young age. Wow, you ate a lot! Worked hard! We are very proud of each of you.

No matter how high the flood waters go (or do not go), preparation has to be undertaken – prepare for the worst, be thankful for the least. There is no area of the U.S. that could perform this miracle with the regularity with which we seem to need it. From the mayor and his staff, to the fantastic firefighters, city/county law enforcement personnel, guardsmen and Sandbag Central employees – all highly intelligent, competent and hardworking men and women – we appreciate each of you. I spent many days at SBC, watched the employees cheer the first closing and watched their determined and exhausted faces and bodies put it back up a second time. Each worked his heart out. From Terry and Jen to the forklift drivers and heavy equipment operators, whose high-speed skills allowed them to accomplish what had to be done quickly and should have been set to music and put on YouTube. What choreography!

I’d also like to personally thank a man named Matt, whose normal day job is as an environmental chemist. He was always so helpful, showing unfailing kindness and courtesy each time we approached him. Also a big thank-you to another of the kindest and most caring men on the planet, Volunteer Coordinator Dan Mahli. I encountered him at SBC and again at the Emergency Operations Center (another area of high competency) – always concerned and interested in everyone.

Thanks to all, named and unnamed. Fargo is lucky to have each of you, and we are honored to live here.