Tireless work for residents: Bergquist receiving award for effortsJerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, was lucky to get 5 hours of sleep per day during Jamestown’s spring flood fight last year. Sometimes from 6 a.m. one day to 2 a.m. the next, Bergquist coordinated emergency efforts to keep Jamestown as dry as possible.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, was lucky to get 5 hours of sleep per day during Jamestown’s spring flood fight last year. Sometimes from 6 a.m. one day to 2 a.m. the next, Bergquist coordinated emergency efforts to keep Jamestown as dry as possible.
For his efforts during the flood and his involvement in various boards and organizations on the city and state levels, Bergquist will be awarded the 2010 Above and Beyond Award from the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce, said JoDee Rasmusson, executive director of the chamber.
The sold-out awards ceremony is at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Gladstone Inn & Suites. To get on the waiting list, call the chamber at 252-4830.
“It feels great but in the end the entire community deserves the award,” Bergquist said.
He and Bob Martin, dam manager at Pipestem Dam, and Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer, started planning for the spring floods last January, Bergquist said.
In February, when the Army Corps of Engineers told city and county officials that there was no maneuvering around floodwaters, Bergquist stepped up planning, he said.
An emergency manager has four tasks when dealing with an event: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
The preparedness stage consisted of meetings to make sure efforts were coordinated and there wasn’t any overlapping, he said.
By the end of March, Bergquist coordinated the daily interagency meetings that brought officials together and provided new information, he said. Public works agencies, public safety agencies, health and medical groups, individual assistance groups, the media and other agencies attended the daily meetings that ran down any new developments.
“A typical day would probably be comprised of several meetings, hopefully time in between to get something to eat,” he said.
His goal was to compile enough information to make the daily interagency meetings look like a recap.
“Jerry is a very capable, very dedicated emergency manager,” said Gov. John Hoeven. “He showed his commitment once again last spring during the flood fight, working many, many hours to protect Jamestown and Stutsman County.”
Although flooding concerns for the area died when the dikes came down, he is currently in the mitigation stage for last year’s flood.
“I don’t know for me if it officially ended,” he said.
Efforts like a federal buyout for homes and property in southwest Jamestown and an aged sanitary sewer system still loom, Bergquist said.
The sewer system that approached failure was one of the hardest parts of the spring flood; the other was word of mouth, he said.
“The hardest part was trying to minimize the rumor situation out there. People love to make up stuff,” Bergquist said.
One rampant rumor was that the dams were on the brink of failure.
“There were no dam safety issues, there were people on (monitoring) those dams 24 hours a day,” he said.
But Bergquist wasn’t alone in the flood fight. He coordinated efforts from groups like the National Guard and Corps of Engineers.
“I appreciate the award and I think it’s great the community realizes how much work went into the flood event but people need to realize it was not just me,” he said.
There were many more people who made the 2009 flood fight successful, Bergquist said, including Schwartzkopf, Beth Dewald, executive director of Buffalo Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Maj. Tim Miller, formerly with the Salvation Army in Jamestown, Noel Johnson, Stutsman County chief operating officer, and Kent Theurer, emergency manager for Jamestown Hospital,
“Basically he didn’t panic, he gave me a lot of guidance and a lot of input,” Schwartzkopf said.
More than 20 people nominated him for the Above and Beyond Award, and his involvement in local and state boards and organizations was also a reason for his nomination, Rasmusson said.
His job title goes beyond emergency manager; Bergquist is also the county 911 coordinator and communications adviser.
In Jamestown, Bergquist serves on the Red Cross Board, the Salvation Army Advisory Board, a St. John’s Academy endowment board and the Jamestown Amateur Ham Radio Club.
As the longest employed 911 coordinator in the state, Bergquist also chairs the Emergency Services Communications Coordinating Committee.
ESC3, as he calls it, is currently working on bringing Next Generation 911 to North Dakota, he said. The service will allow people to send text and picture messages to 911.
He was the first president of the North Dakota 911 Association and still is a member.
Nationally Bergquist is part of the Association of Public-Safety Officials and the National Emergency Number Association.
“I admire his tireless work ethic, his commitment to help people, and the unselfish way he always puts others before him,” Schwartzkopf said.
Bergquist’s reason for being so active:
“I’m making sure that we’re doing everything possible to take care of local citizens,” he said.
His unwearying efforts during the flood and other community involvement meant he left four weeks of vacation unused at the end of the year.
“When I get involved in something I try to do it right,” Berg-quist said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org