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Floods force adjustments from post office to schools

April 25, 1997

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) _ Junk mail never looked so good.

In a city saturated with the woeful effects of way too much water, the Grand Forks post office was happily swamped.

Hundreds of people crowded into the post office Thursday to pick up a week’s worth of letters, junk mail and bills. It was the first day the spared post office was opened since roughly 47,000 residents fled the flooded Red River last week. Some walked out with armloads of mail; some carried baskets.

``My son got a letter from, it looks like a girlfriend, so that’s going to be good news for him,″ said Mike Moe, a commercial airline pilot. He has been staying with a friend in a small town south of Grand Forks.

People gave their names to post office employees, then waited in the standing-room-only lobby. Postal workers then fetched the mail from a back room and shouted out their recipients’ names.

``It’s kind of like in the military,″ Moe said.


GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) _ Troy Johnson has been stuck in a shelter for six days _ not unusual in flooded Grand Forks. But Johnson is six months pregnant.

``You’re sleeping next to a bunch of people in cots,″ she said Thursday from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. ``It’s hard to get me out of bed. Either my boyfriend has to help me or my daughter, because the cots are so low.″

Johnson, her daughter, her boyfriend and two of his children were chased from their second-floor apartment in East Grand Forks, Minn., last weekend as the Red River surged through sandbag and clay dikes.

Johnson can at least look forward to different surroundings. A family from nearby Larimore has offered her a place to stay.

``It really surprised me,″ she said. ``You know there really is good people out there.″


FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Seven-year-old Alex Moe was lucky just to have a change of clothes when his family fled their flooded home, let alone pencils and textbooks.

But by the time the first bell rang at his temporary school in Fargo, the Grand Forks first-grader had all the school supplies a child could need, plus a stuffed wolf to cuddle and a new best friend.

And when his new classmates learned Alex was a huge hockey fan who had to leave his gear at home, they brought him hockey sticks _ six in all.

``Seven, if you count the little one,″ he said, correcting his parents, Clair Moe and Beverly Benda-Moe.

Alex is among thousands of young refugees from Grand Forks and smaller communities along the Red River who were welcomed at schools in North Dakota and Minnesota.

``Our faculty and staff are prepared to treat them as heroes for the combat that they’ve gone through,″ said Vern Bennett, superintendent of schools in Fargo, where about 90 Grand Forks students have enrolled.

In Larimore, east of Grand Forks, the typical number of students _ 590 _ has surged to more than 750, said Superintendent John Jankowski. Forty other students are on a waiting list to get in.

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