Terese Rotenberger, Published April 04 2014
Letter: Ransom County fought good fight in 2009 floodCountless memories flash through my mind about the 2009 flood in Ransom County, N.D. At the top of the list is how the people pulled together and how so many agencies worked together.
For example, children from a Lisbon day care, local students, and women in their 70s, along with countless individuals, volunteered to fill sandbags to save our communities. The U.S. Corps of Engineers sent our hero, Kevin Baumgard, to advise our flood fight. The North Dakota National Guard helped with traffic and dike patrols and operating pumps and many other duties. Contractors and the Ransom County Highway Department used backhoes and excavators to clear ice jams, day and night.
Sheriff Darren Benniweis a National Guard veteran, who had recently served in Iraq, was our incident commander. We were blessed by his skills and knowledge. He coordinated his efforts with Lisbon Police Chief Jeanette Persons, the National Guard and the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.
Dikes were built in Lisbon, and Fort Ransom and approximately 100,000 sandbags protected homes, farms and business.
The Sheyenne River flowed 6 feet over the Highway 27 bridge in Lisbon for weeks. At one point, a manhole cover on the east side of the bridge was not holding back the flooding. Black Hawk helicopters were called to drop huge sandbags on the site. Delays in orders to the helicopter occurred and the National Guard built emergency ring dikes.
County commissioners and city council members were at the battle lines, too. They were active in working with sandbag operations and hauling sandbags. The fire departments coordinated sandbagging operations in Lisbon, Fort Ransom and Enderlin/Sheldon. The ladies of the communities cooked, baked and fed our volunteers and gave encouragement for all their hard work. At the courthouse grounds, the portable potty was decorated to provide comfort and a lift to our moral.
The Ransom County Highway Department and township officers were continually on duty marking closed roads and making emergency repairs. Lisbon and Enderlin city workers worked around the clock watching pumps and protecting our lift stations.
Farmers and businesses donated the use of trucks, trailers, Bobcats and equipment.
Now where some of the flooded homes were, vacant lots are seen. I pray that Ransom County never has another flood of this magnitude, but if it does, there are so many unsung heroes in our communities who will pull together and we will get-r-done.
Rotenberger was Ransom County emergency manager in 2009.