Elected officials, couple hundred volunteers fill sandbags in Hastings

"If it does rise to that 21-foot level, they will need our help."

Sloane Martin
March 23, 2019 - 2:33 pm
Sandbags are made by Governor Walz in Hastings

Entercom

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A couple hundred volunteers are working in Hastings to fill at least 10,000 sandbags in the event of serious flooding off the Mississippi River. More than a dozen churches rallied their congregations and folks from surrounding towns wanted to lend a hand.

"Amazing turnout," Rob Pasch said. "It's just been fabulous. We've had, I don't know what the numbers are, but I've never seen this large a group."

"I live on the high-ground so I'm very fortunate, but my neighbors will need help," Kathy Chernisky said. "We're here to help each other."

"Most of us live high and dry," Pastor Paris Pasch said. "These people recognize this is not about their need, it's about someone else's need. They were willing, eager to respond. It's really rewarding to see that kind of kindness bring extended toward folks they probably will never meet."

Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Rep. Angie Craig also volunteered, using a shovel to get sand into bags from large heaps, where they're then tied up, put on a pallet and stockpiled. 

Governor Walz making sandbags in Hastings
Entercom

Walz praised the coordination across state, federal and local officials in their effort to be over-prepared.

"There is going to be localized flooding regardless of what happens with the melt," he said. "The question is: will it be historic levels? So far we've dodged that and in preparation for that is making sure that the coordination and emegency management team has stood up."

After big waves from Lake Superior badly damaged the Duluth shoreline last year, the disaster assistance contingency account is empty. 

State Rep. Tony Jurgens, who represents Hastings, says the legislature will step up to help.

RELATED: From Fargo-Moorhead to Hastings, flood preparations are underway

"We're trying to give [the governor] the funds that he needs to be able to react to these disasters whether we're in session, we're out of session, trying to get you $20 million so that you can respond if we need it," Jurgens said. "As we're looking at the river flowing now it's coming up about six to eight inches a day or more. It has been delayed a little bit, but the flood are still going to come."

State Sen. Karla Bigham says last week they passed a $10 million disaster relief bill out of the senate. 

Hastings Mayor Mary Fasbender says the sandbags will be used on the east side of Hastings where 11 houses are at risk. 

"They'll reach out to us when and if they need support from the city," she said. "As of the other day everyone felt they were content with their own self doing the needs, so if they need assistance, then they'll reach back out to us."

"This hasn't been their first time doing it so they know what to do. They're pretty much self-sufficient, but if it does rise to that 21-foot level, they will need our help."

Putting sand in bags in Hastings
Entercom