Township staffs all kettles for a dayDuring the gloomy, gray days of last spring’s flood, a glimpse of red was a glimmer of hope for homeowners in Oakport Township. From sandwiches and soda to coffee and cleaning supplies, the Salvation Army was a lifeline to the community north of Moorhead that was, at times, cut off by floodwaters.
By: By Kelly Smith, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — During the gloomy, gray days of last spring’s flood, a glimpse of red was a glimmer of hope for homeowners in Oakport Township.
From sandwiches and soda to coffee and cleaning supplies, the Salvation Army was a lifeline to the community north of Moorhead that was, at times, cut off by floodwaters.
“When you’re at your darkest moment, when you don’t think you can save your house … the Salvation Army brings back that spark of life,” said township board Chairman Greg Anderson, adding that the sight of Salvation Army trucks simply showed “somebody cares.”
Now, nearly a year later, residents want to show they care, repaying the organization with their own act of kindness.
On Saturday, about 200 Oakport residents will staff almost every Salvation Army kettle in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
“You never think to repay the Salvation Army; they never ask for it,” said resident Carol Reski, one of the organizers.
She and Anderson will be among the residents Saturday who will cover all 300 hours of bell ringing required to staff 30 kettles in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
“They were just a huge help to us,” Reski said. “What better way to support them.”
Last March and April, Oakport was one of the hardest-hit areas during record spring flooding in the Red River Valley, forcing many of the 1,700 residents to evacuate.
Floodwaters invaded some 150 homes, Anderson said, while flooded roads isolated about 500 homes, leaving them cut off from the region like an island.
They weren’t, however, cut off from help.
Even when Salvation Army volunteers couldn’t get to Oakport, they called homes to check on residents. After the flooding, they brought buckets of cleaning supplies to people like Reski and her husband who were salvaging flooded basements.
“(It was) our worst nightmare,” she said. “We had water all around us.”
Ironically, just months before, she was ringing bells for the Salvation Army before last year’s holidays. Not long after, her home and neighborhood was inundated with sewer backup, just days before floodwaters crested.
“Little did I know I would go from volunteer to being on the receiving end,” she said.
Yet, amid the havoc, there was hope thanks to some helping hands.
“We’ve been so thankful for what the Salvation Army has done,” she said. “They really are a vital part to our community.”
Now, in this season of giving, Oakport residents are giving back to show their gratitude to those who gave them so much.
“Everybody was impacted,” Anderson said. “This is really our time to say thank you.”
Kelly Smith is a writer for
The Forum, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.