Live from Fargo

My friend Ron McLean is one of the most talented lawyers I know. He’s a lawyer’s lawyer and he lives in Fargo, North Dakota. Worrying about him yesterday, I called to check in with him.

Ron told me to go to the photo display at Twin and look at the photo of the fellow in the hovercraft. He said the fellow had evacuated him and his wife from their home just south of Fargo on 15-minutes’ notice earlier this week.

Ron said that when he bought his house the highest the Red River had reached in the area was 35 feet. (I’m writing from memory and may be slightly off.) He built his house at 38 feet. Ron’s house is now under water, a victim of the flood.

He said it was difficult to say goodbye to the house in which he’d raised his three kids, but that he and his wife knew the time would come when they would leave it and that they were dealing with it. They have temporarily moved into the Extended Stay Suites — he said the quarters were a little close — and have mapped out their housing plans for the next few months.

I caught Ron when he had just arrived at his office in downtown Fargo, which has so far escaped the flood. He was still busy practicing law. Yesterday was the unforgiving deadline for removing to federal court a case that had been filed against one of his clients in state court, but the federal court in town was closed. What was he to do? He was filing the removal papers in federal court in Bismarck.

The river is expected to crest tomorrow. This morning Ron tells me that the mayor says the level of the river in Fargo has crested. We pray that the dikes and levees will hold, that ice won’t jam the flow, and that the rest of the Fargo and Moorhead will escape the flood.

The Minnesota and North Dakota National Guards are doing their usual great job in the emergency. Ron expressed particular gratitude to 22,000 college students from the three colleges in the area. The college students have pitched in to help lay sandbags together with high school students from points as far away as Brainerd and Alexandria, Minnesota.

On Monday the AP reported that the goal had been raised to two million sandbags; Ron said the word was that they had laid 3.5 million sandbags.


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