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United Tribes involved in flood fight
College High & Dry/Campus Community Volunteers
29 July 2011

BISMARCK (UTN) - Missouri River flooding caused destruction for an extended period of time during the summer of 2011. All along the river basin in Montana and the Dakotas, the damage included property and infrastructure belonging to tribes and tribal people. Homes, roads, bridges and public buildings were inundated by waters highly contaminated with E. coli and other health hazards. The Crow Tribe in Montana was hit particularly hard, losing hundreds of homes. Leaders at Three Affiliated and Standing Rock were prompted to declare flood emergencies. In some areas, such as on Standing Rock, rising water forced snakes and other creatures out of their normal habitat into contact with people.

Anthony Walker (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) is on the receiving end of a sandbag toss from Kyle Leaf (Cheyenne River) during a volunteer outing along the Missouri River. Both are Criminal Justice Program students and were part of a class that spent an afternoon sandbagging at the home of a UTTC employee’s family member.

      A combination of unprecedented spring rainfall in the Missouri watershed, combined with record snowpack in the mountains of Montana, were the stated causes for the most significant flood threat to Bismarck-Mandan since construction of the Garrison Dam 60 years ago. With federal assistance, the area responded to avert a larger disaster with 10 miles of protective dikes and levees, pumping operations, evacuations, and volunteer sandbagging.

      Since United Tribes Technical College is located on high ground out of the flood plain over two miles from the river, the college was not subjected directly to flooding. However, the college was impacted in other ways. The homes and residents of a number of staff members and students and their families were located in low-lying areas, and the community needed volunteers for sandbagging and other flood-related assistance.

      As local, state and national authorities began to assess the threat to Bismarck-Mandan and its residents, the college’s administrative managers established a United Tribes flood response effort. An office was established in the Russell Hawkins Conference Center as a command location and dubbed “UTTC Flood Central.” Individuals from the college’s division of Student and Campus Services were assigned to staff it. Safety Director Bill Wuolu was named coordinator.

A group from United Tribes, including David M. Gipp, college president, at left, filled sandbags June 2 at Bismarck’s “Sandbag Central” location.

      High water levels over flood stage persisted in the Bismarck-Mandan area, causing flood awareness and some mitigation activities by the college throughout the summer.

      Donors, including and in particular the American Indian College Fund, responded quickly to the crisis with emergency funds for the tribes and tribal colleges affected. United Tribes is grateful for the assistance and thankful to be located above the flooding and therefore able to provide help to others.

      – Editor

United Tribes Flood Response

By Bill Wuolu, UTTC Safety Director

      Flood Central, in the Russell Hawkins building, was established to assist the campus community during the flood event. Assistance was provided with sandbagging, moving of belongings and housing issues. Staff members worked with various departments around campus to marshal resources and address needs during the flood event, share vital information and respond to community questions and needs.

United Tribes volunteers helped sandbag the home of college employees Mike and Stacie Iken, and later helped move their possessions to safety.

Requested Assistance

      Thirty-four individuals requested assistance through UTTC Flood Central. People and transportation to sandbag, transport of sandbags, and assistance with moving was requested and provided. To ensure they had a place to go, some individuals requested that they be placed on a list for lodging in case they were ordered by local authorities to evacuate.


      Many volunteers from the UTTC campus community came to help those in need. Sandbaggers, movers, and transporters pitched in to help those on the requested assistance list. Seven individuals came from the Three Affiliated Tribes at New Town on June 3 to help the Bismarck/Mandan community. Scott Davis and Kelly Baker also helped for many days transporting sandbags and placing sandbags for those in need.

Housing Assistance

      Eleven UTTC community (Student, faculty or staff) members and their families (39 people total) move onto campus into student housing or dorms. There were also seven others who inquired regarding housing assistance in the event they would need to evacuate their homes.

      The college was prepared to take-in up to 137 people in housing units and dorms if needed, with contingency for up to 100 more in the college gymnasium. Room for an additional 10 families was available in the new modular classrooms of Theodore Jamerson Elementary School on the college campus.

      Thank you to everyone who involved themselves in this community effort!

In UTTC Flood Central, from left: Dave Raymo, Dennis Lowman, Bill Wuolu and Jess Simpson.

Issue Management

The following tasks were identified and/or completed between May 26 and June 7 as part of the United Tribes flood response effort:

  • Established UTTC Flood Central location
  • Tracked flood info almost hourly from official sources, including NWS, COE, ND Emergency Management, National Guard, and City of Bismarck, and from other sources including the media and individuals
  • Distributed information about routing and handling flood related calls, requests and questions
  • Evaluated and planned for cafeteria service for possible evacuees
  • Increased emergency supplies
  • Assessed amount of water on hand
  • Purchased: non-perishable foods; cleaning/disinfecting supplies
  • Obtained quotes for purchase of generators in case of power outage
  • Ongoing tracking of resources
  • Reserved Spiffy Biffs for possible evacuation situation
  • Created a temporary housing contract and vehicle permit and guidelines
  • Created requested assistance spreadsheet to manage requests/needs
  • Evaluated and prepared for temporary housing on campus
  • Received donated bedding from God's Child Project
  • Tracked the amount of fuel used by college vehicles
  • Tracked the number of volunteer hours by college staff
  • Provided shuttle service to & from sandbagging sites almost hourly
  • Obtained authorization for administrative leave for employees doing volunteer flood work
  • Allowed use of campus parking lot for pick-up and drop-off by nearby, flooded elementary school
  • Formed an Information Technology Emergency Management Plan
  • Obtained quotes for rental units
  • Developed procedures for accepting flood donations
  • Documented with photos and notes the college’s flood emergency response
– Bill Wuolu, UTTC Safety Director

Everlasting Gratitude
One of the Many ‘Thank You’ Notes

Dear President Gipp,

Thank you for allowing our wonderful UTTC maintenance crew to help with the flood efforts. Last night they came to my mother’s house (in the flood zone) to help sandbag and put up a perimeter. Words cannot convey how helpful that was to my mom and me.

The neighborhoods had tons of people but no one really stopped to ask my mom if she needed help. Then the UTTC crew pulled up and did such an amazing professional job. Some of the neighbors came over to see what a great job they did!

I just wanted you to know that my family and I are truly grateful. THANK YOU Bernard Strikes Enemy and crew and Wes Long Feather for helping us!

– Tiffany Hodge, UTTC Enterprise Director


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