In the summer of 1997 I took a summer holiday, my first vacation in a long time. I left Calgary and camped my way down through to Sioux Falls, South Dakota because I wanted to see the Black Hills and visit a friend there. I would say I was probably fairly self-absorbed and disconnected from what was going on in the world. I had no idea of the extent of the Red River flooding that summer, and of the devastation in the Dakotas and Manitoba.
I spent the night in Sioux Falls and left early in the morning intending to drive straight to Winnipeg. I stopped for gas somewhere and found out that an elderly couple had been killed by a tornado the previous night not at all far from where I camped. The dude looked at me like I was a moron when I told him where I had camped. Note to self: Get a good camping radio, or at least check the weather warnings.
I had to pick up a few things so I stopped in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Map. I couldn't believe what I saw. They were dealing with the after math of the Red River flood when a fire broke out in the downtown area. The water problems made it almost impossible to fight the fire and a lot of the downtown businesses burned down.
It looked like a war zone and I didn't stay long. The people there were so distressed and worn out. I learned one thing about Americans. Whether they are red or blue they are one tough people. Ditto for Manitobans.
When I got back to Winnipeg and got an aerial view of the devastation and got caught up on the news I found it really astonishing. Mostly I felt pretty angry with myself for being so aloof and not being able to help in such a situation.
Right now they are sandbagging around the clock in Fargo, in a desperate attempt to get that few extra feet or inches that will save their properties and businesses. I wish I were there.
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