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Published June 07, 2009, 12:00 AM

Lind: Even a flood can’t stop the mail in rural North Dakota

Never underestimate the ingenuity of a farmer. Or, in this case, three farmers.

By: Bob Lind, INFORUM

Never underestimate the ingenuity of a farmer. Or, in this case, three farmers.

This story is about farmers near Ypsilanti, N.D., south of Jamestown, who get their mail out of “Ypsi,” as they call their town.

But they had a bit of a problem during the recent flood season, when high water washed out the road between about six farms and Ypsilanti and their mail carrier couldn’t get through.

But Joel McClean, his son Lucas, 19, and Chad Van Dyke, 20, son of Lynn Van Dyke, decided if the carrier couldn’t get to them, they’d find a way to get to the carrier. And they did.

They welded a pipe to the end of an old grain auger, attached a mailbox on a chain to it, then wheeled the auger to the washout and extended the mailbox over the breach in the road.

This allowed the carrier to put all the affected families’ mail in the box.

Chad then became a mail carrier himself. He’d pull the auger back, take out the mail and deliver it to the families.

Chad’s mother, Pam, says the farmers were without mail for about two days. Then the auger/mailbox allowed the families to get their mail for another two days, when the road was repaired.

All of which proves it takes more than a little thing like flooding to keep a farmer down.

What wasn’t seen

It’s stories such as that of the Ypsilanti farmers that inspired a note of praise from a former Fargo resident.

Jim Solberg of Fargo sends along a note from his former associate who was amazed by the news coverage of the flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area, and not by “what we see, but what we don’t see.”

This man then listed them:

“We don’t see looting.”

“We don’t see street violence.

“We don’t see people sitting on their rooftops waiting for the government to come and save them.

“We don’t see people waiting on the government to do anything.

“We don’t see Hollywood organizing benefits to raise money for people to rebuild.

“We don’t see people blaming President Obama.

“We don’t see people ignoring evacuation orders.

“We don’t see people blaming a government conspiracy to blow up the levees as the reason some have not held.

“We don’t see the U.S. senators or the governors crying on TV.

“We don’t see the mayors of any of the cities complaining about the lack of state or federal response.

“We don’t see or hear reports of the police going around confiscating firearms so only the criminals will be armed.

“We don’t see gangs of people going around randomly shooting at the rescue workers.

“We don’t see some leaders in this country blaming the bad behavior of the flood victims on ‘society,’ (but of course, there is no widespread report of lawlessness to require such excuses.)

“The simple explanation is that these are North Dakotans and Minnesotans, and we would not expect anything less.”

Saluting volunteers

Now, along with the above ringing endorsement of area residents, comes this idea from Paul Groethe of Fort Ransom, N.D.

Paul is impressed, and rightly so, by the volunteers who did so much during the flood. So, Paul suggests, “Fargo and Moorhead join together and proclaim a Flood Volunteer Appreciation Day.

“I imagine,” Paul says, “that both communities are always looking for special days to promote their businesses and communities. You could tie into this day (or days) dozens of events, such as a parade, food stands, speeches by community officials, business specials, churches’ special volunteer appreciation services, advertising specialty items produced and sold with the profits going to something tied into the flood damage – the list goes on and on.

“The event would accomplish many things: first and foremost, honoring the thousands who volunteered; secondly, it would offer the communities a special business event; and it would become an annual event so people would be reminded of the tragedy that struck in 2009 that would attract attention over the entire country.

“Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it,” says his


You stick to it, Paul.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com