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Published March 25, 2009, 12:00 AM

Bison hoops players lend a hand in Briarwood area south of Fargo

It was just a week ago when Ben Woodside was getting ready to play in the NCAA basketball tournament, one of the biggest sporting events in the world. On Tuesday, he was sandbagging like thousands of others.

By: Jeff Kolpack, INFORUM

It was just a week ago when Ben Woodside was getting ready to play in the NCAA basketball tournament, one of the biggest sporting events in the world. On Tuesday, he was sandbagging like thousands of others.

The North Dakota State guard has spanned the emotional pendulum in a matter of days.

“It seems like two extremes,” Woodside said. “One, you feel like you’re on top of the world in the NCAA tournament and myself hitting the game-winner to get there. A week later, my whole team is helping save people’s houses and a number of families from disaster.”

Woodside and several teammates and Bison head coach Saul Phillips worked in Briarwood, a subdivision south of Fargo. If the river reaches around 40 feet, most of the homes will be islands inside of ring dikes.

“Now he’s doing this,” homeowner Matt Engen said of Woodside. “It’s got to be reality.”

Engen bought his home last May and has a shallow dike of sandbags surrounding his place. Down the road, Bob Hegg has his home surrounded by about a 3-foot-high double-sided plywood wall. His property is normally good to 38 feet.

But not knowing if there would be enough sandbags to get to Briarwood, he and his crew got 80 sheets of plywood and 500 2-by-4-by-12s and surrounded his place in less than 24 hours.

“We have some real serious workers around here,” Hegg said.

Some Briarwood residents were optimistic that news of a lower crest in Wahpeton, N.D., earlier Tuesday would translate into a lower predicted crest for them.

Still, work was moving at a furious pace.

“It was a lot worse than I thought it would be,” Woodside said. “I was surprised.”


Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show from 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

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