Sandbaggers come from Ohio to help FargoAfter driving more than 1,000 miles and spending 20 hours in a Dodge minivan, five men from Ohio savored the flavor of Fargo on Thursday. Mmmm. Tastes like sand.
By: By Mike Nowatzki, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — After driving more than 1,000 miles and spending 20 hours in a Dodge minivan, five men from Ohio savored the flavor of Fargo on Thursday.
Mmmm. Tastes like sand.
“We’re learning on the fly,” said Doug Becker, as he and the other Buckeyes filled plastic sandbags at Fargo’s Sandbag Central.
Eric Renner is the local pastor whose plea for help drew the quintet to Fargo.
An Ohio native, Renner is pastor at Shepherd of the Prairie, a Moravian church at 6151 25th St. S.
About a month ago, he wrote on Facebook about the need for sandbagging volunteers. He got a response from Darrell Johnson, a longtime friend and fellow Moravian pastor in Gnadenhutten, Ohio.
Johnson rounded up four others, including Becker and 75-year-old Bob Geiger, who was Renner’s high school principal more than 20 years ago.
“All these years later, still checking up on me,” Renner joked to Geiger on Thursday.
The men reached Fargo in time to attend Renner’s Ash Wednesday service and arrived early Thursday at Sandbag Central.
Geiger, who is retired and lives in Gnadenhutten, said he wanted to do some mission work in Fargo and help the city prepare for the upcoming flood fight.
Becker, a mechanical engineer who lives in nearby Tuscarawas, Ohio, and serves on the volunteer fire department there, said he was impressed with Sandbag Central.
“I think it’s great to see their community pull together, work together as a team,” said Becker, a regional volunteer coordinator for the Moravian Church.
Ohio just dealt with a round of major flooding, and Becker said lakes and dams are being drained to create storage space for more water this spring.
“Maybe we’ll take some sandbags home with us,” he joked.
The Ohio group — Becker, Geiger, Johnson, Andy Brooker and Gideon Swartzentruber — sacrificed time, sleep and a lot of gas money to get to Fargo just to help out for a day, Renner noted.
“It’s awesome,” he said.
Mike Nowatzki is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead which is owned by Forum Communications Co.