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ISSUE 118 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/1/2004

Volunteers unite to help flood victims

By Stephanie Soucheray
Variety Editor

Friday, October 1, 2004

Forty-five volunteers from St. Olaf and Carleton took a bus to Austin and Albert Lea, MN on Saturday, Sept. 25. The students, organized through St. Olafs Volunteer Network, wanted to aid flood victims there.

During the days after the initial flooding of southern Minnesota, which left many buildings damaged, St. Olafs Volunteer Network decided that the citizens of Northfields neighboring townships would appreciate their help.

" St. Olafs Volunteer network started planning a volunteer trip to Austin with student vans, then Carleton called and said they had a bus, Tom Balsley 05, the Volunteer Network executive coordinator, said. It was great to see St. Olaf and Carleton work so easily together for the sake of volunteering."

During the week of Sept. 14-19, southern Minnesota suffered dangerous floods which came during this season of unpredictable and unusual fall weather patterns nationwide.

Areas like Albert Lea and Austin fell victim to the Cedar River flooding, which rose 10 feet above flood stage.

As the Cedar River rose, homes and businesses near its banks experienced total destruction of basements and merchandise.

A Red Cross survey completed last week showed that 3,090 homes were damaged by the flood.

"By the time we got there, most of the homes and businesses were cleaned up," Susan Kamholtz 07 said. "But, we did help a businessman from Albert Lea pull out damaged carpet from his building."

Although the St. Olaf and Carleton volunteers arrived in the flood areas after many other volunteer groups had already responded to the call for help, they did hear stories about how terrible the flooding was.

"One women told us how her apartment had flooded in a matter of minutes, Kamholtz said. We were surprised by how quickly the towns were able to clean up after such a disaster.

The Volunteer Network is one of the most active student groups on campus, and its members are always eager to lend their services when a crisis arises.

"The bus at Carleton couldnt actually hold all the St. Olaf volunteers who wanted to go, Balsley said. Some had to be turned away. Its just a great sign that Carleton and St. Olaf could coordinate so well with each other, and that we literally had too many St. Olaf volunteers."

Southern Minnesota cities, including Austin and Albert Lea, are still continuing their clean up of the damage.

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