In 2009, my senior year at Concordia College abruptly ended as students helped battle another 500-year flood. The high waters hit home – literally. Flooded in 1997, my family’s house was again at risk. Early one morning in April, with a sump pump hose in each hand, I vividly remember draping my body over the 10,000-sandbag dike in our backyard. The sump pumps couldn’t keep up, and the will of the water was stronger than my small frame. Around 3 a.m., even with all hands on deck, our house was flooded.

Despite the devastating loss of our home, I’ll never forget how our community came together in both ’97 and ’09 to keep the raging Red from wreaking havoc on neighborhoods. The unity of this community saved our cities from total devastation. Some homes were lost, but far fewer than if the vulnerable were left to fend for themselves. All aspects of life were disrupted as everyone made sacrifices to wage the war against the water. It was an exhaustive effort that required commitment from our entire community, but Fargo-Moorhead didn’t relax until the Red was back in her bed.

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The “stronger together” mentality and same commitment to community exhibited throughout both flood fights could help us successfully combat the coronavirus, unfortunately, both have waned in recent weeks. Many have decided to put the pandemic in the past thanks to an arbitrary timeline they’ve created. They ignorantly accept misinformation and go about their days without any mind to maintain the simple practices that have effectively helped flatten the curve. In a rush to pretend that what they can’t see can’t hurt them, they’ve given up the fight, thereby endangering themselves and those around them.

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It’s not the lifting of restrictions by the state that will result in the virus’s continued spread, it’s whether people respond responsibly. Will businesses prioritize profit over protecting their employees and community? Will individuals socialize stupidly or safely? As some dismiss basic safety measures, the virus continues to lurk eerily near and a silent, but significant spread seems inevitable. We must remain persistent, vigilant, and committed to beating this calamitous community threat. If we give up now, the weeks spent in solitude and minding CDC guidelines will have been for naught.

The ease of restrictions gives each of us the freedom to make our own decisions with hopes that we show regard for one another. If we collectively maintain simple safety measures and make small sacrifices, we can protect our community. Businesses can operate more normally, but should require masks on employees and shoppers, and enforce safe distancing. Individuals can resume more regular routines while wearing masks in public and resisting gatherings.

Just because we can’t see the coronavirus like we could the waters of the Red, doesn’t mean we won’t see its devastation firsthand if we give up the fight now. If the coronavirus were a flood, the waters would still be lapping at our back door. We can keep it at bay by committing to do our part. Ignoring simple safety measures is like knocking down your neighbor’s dike. The foundation to combat this virus is in place, please do your part to keep it from eroding.

Danz is an avid runner, reader and writer. She’s a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead who lives, works and believes in downtown Fargo. She’s a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages.