The Carl Online

Tales from the Great Northfield Flood Part 2; Flood of Support by carlmagazine
October 9, 2010, 9:38 am
Filed under: Feature, Northfield | Tags: , , ,

By Teddy Gelderman

I rolled out of bed on Friday morning and clicked on my computer to check my email. There I read a universal call for volunteer sandbaggers to converge downtown at Bridge Square immediately. It was 9am and the river was still rising. As I am a senior, my first class isn’t until 4a, so I figured I might as well go check out the damage. When I hopped off my bike  twenty minutes later, I got my first glimpse of the inundated Northfield that we all came to know last weekend.

At first, I wasn’t sure about what I was supposed to do, or if they even needed volunteers. Then, as if on queue, someone jogged over to a crowd of us bystanders and directed us where to go. Water was creeping higher and higher and was now only inches from some windows along the waterfront sidewalk. I stepped down the two remaining visible steps onto what was normally a riverfront walkway, and was met with two feet of water, which meant that for the rest of the day my shoes and pants would be drenched. We formed the first of many sandbag brigade lines and quickly fortified what we could. By then it was 10:00 am and it seemed unlikely that the river would crest within the hour, as was previously predicted. However, the water was still climbing and would soon overcome Northfield’s first line of defense.

From then on, I followed the small splinter cells of sandbaggers up and down both sides of the river stacking, heaving, filling, tying, and hauling   sandbags for the next two hours. I took orders from whoever was giving them and the minutes clicked on as the river inched its way higher and higher up the walls.

I realized just after noon that I was late for my 4a, and rushed back to catch the tail end of class. Once class was out, I set out for the river again, filed myself back into another sandbag brigade line and was instantly passing bags down to the other volunteers.
And the day passed. Our original efforts were washed away or simply overwhelmed by the water, but by 6:00pm it seemed as though the worst was over. Our walls were holding and the river seemed content to rise no further. The volunteers were called off and most of us walked home: shovels scraping the asphalt behind us, dragged by sore, bruised arms and shoulders.

While the Flood of 2010 will be recorded as one of the most memorable in the city’s history, what remains most impressive is the response from Northfield’s own residents. Long before I arrived and long after I left, people of all ages were doing their part. Like a colony of ants, every individual worked with little to no central organization or direction. They just worked, and out of what should have been chaos, came order. Filling stations and line brigades seemed to materialize and organize on their own.

A voice would call out for more people to move sandbags, or that a wheelbarrow had a bad wheel, or that one station was getting low on sand, and before the voice had stopped echoing off the nearest building, extra volunteers would flock to fill line gaps, bring replacement parts, or find out when the next load of sand would arrive. Oles, Carls, and even Raiders worked side by side, joining together in numbers perhaps never seen before in Northfield. Classes and practices were cancelled to provide replacement workers for the volunteers. All of Northfield was put on hold and its citizens banded together to work for something bigger than the sum of their parts. All of us moved like tiny gears in a giant, living machine. It was truly inspiring.

And yes, there were apathetic bystanders, and even bow-hunting fishermen. But for every one gawker or opportunistic angler, there were at least 50 people, sandy, sweaty and tired, doing their damnedest to help.

Our town came together in a matter of hours to battle with the Cannon River, and while there were casualties—a moment of silence for Froggy’s—in the end, the day was ours. We have a city filled with generous, hard working, and self-sacrificing individuals and I have never been more proud to be a member of our community, or to live in Northfield.

Tales from the Great Northfield Flood Part 1; Keeping the Waters at Bay by carlmagazine
October 8, 2010, 9:33 am
Filed under: Campus, Northfield, Society

An Interview with Kirk Campbell, Director of Maintenance and Custodial Services

By Lily Shieber

I got my rain boots wet, I even helped sandbag the Cannon, but amidst all this talk of the flood, I thought it would be interesting to hear from someone who was—and still is—in the thick of cleaning up the mess here on campus. Earlier this week, I sat down with Kirk Campbell, the Director of Maintenance and Custodial Services (and might I add, an extremely nice man), who, just about two weeks ago, was waist deep in the murky, black water in West Gym. For Mr. Campbell, that fateful Friday, September 24th, began with a phone call at 4 A.M., alerting him that the water alarms—yes, those exist—were going off. What followed was an all too typical plot of man versus nature, and nature was off to a roaring start. The attempts to keep the Cannon River water away from the stadium and West Gym with pumps and sand berms quickly turned into a lost cause, and as Mr. Campbell said, you have to know when to abandon ship. From then on, the available resources and manpower went towards keeping the water away from the electrical source that controls half of our campus. Power was shut down in the stadium, West Gym, and the nearby houses; yes, sacrifices were made, but it could have been much worse. For most of us, the immediate effects of the flood are mostly over, if not totally old news. For Kirk Campbell, the work has only just begun.

To understand Mr. Campbell’s most daunting challenge these days, you have to understand one word: plenum. Don’t know what that means? Neither did I. I now know that a plenum is a pipe that pumps air around a building. All plenums have insulation—insulation that cannot get wet. And can you guess what happened to the plenums in West Gym? Yup, those suckers got soaked. Unfortunately, the pipes in an older building like West have insulation on the interior, so each piece of plenum has to be removed and cleaned out, then replaced. Oh, and perhaps I should mention, as Mr. Campbell did with a smile, that some of these pipes are “big enough for you and me to walk through”. So before you complain about not being able to practice in West Gym, imagine ripping out pipes the size of an adult human, gutting them, fixing them up, and putting them back. Indeed, when I asked Mr. Campbell what we could do to help now that the flood has ended, he replied, “be patient!” Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Carleton can’t dry up in a week. Despite all the work that lies ahead, Mr. Campbell seems incredibly positive, and even willing to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation—he mentioned how strange it was to have his staff split between crisis management on one side of the road, and setting up inaugural festivities on the other. I asked how he would describe his job these past few weeks: “It’s been nutty,” he said. Here’s hoping that Kirk Campbell’s workday will be back to normal soon enough.

Houses RIP by carlmagazine
September 28, 2010, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Campus, Northfield, Society

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the death of two houses that once stood tall and strong on the Carleton College Campus.


Reynolds House, Carleton’s Jewish interest house of many years, was brutally knocked down this summer. It’s death did not come as a surprise to friends and family as  a variety of piping malfunctions left it closed for the majority of 2009-2010 school year. Reynolds will be remembered for its multi-faceted personality which ranged from spiritual to fun to absolutely ridiculous.

Campus rabbi, Shosh Dworsky remembers fondly the “certain coziness of that dark dingy living room.” The living room was the site of many a alumni Shabbat.  Rabbi Shosh says that it was “fun for me to see and hear them [alumni] as the memories came rushing back.” There are three classes still at Carleton who will recall Reynolds House memories every time that they see its’ empty plot on Union Street.

Will Taylor (’11) describes himself as a “part time resident” of Reynolds House during the 2008-09 school year, as he was a good friend of two of the house residents, Moshe Emilio Lavi (’11) and Iosif Sorokin (’11). Will often found himself passed out on the Reynolds couch. On Saturday mornings he usually woke up to what he describes as some of his most striking memories of the former Jewish home. Every week Iosif hosted 4th and 5th graders from Northfield for chess lessons, “surrounded by piles of MSR and bottles of wine- sheer destruction.” This moment epitomized the spirit of an interest house- an intersection between community outreach, (or what Jews would call tzedakah) and the happy go lucky wear and tear of collegiate festivities.

Iosif remembers when “…a bird flew in through the fireplace and Moses chased it around with a broom for about an hour until he finally knocked it into a box and then we moved it outside and released it.” Just as that bird was freed almost two years ago, it is time to let go of Reynolds House. It seems that the Jewish Students of Carleton (JSC) were ready for and accepting of change. “Though it certainly took my breath away the first time I drove by the empty lot,” Shosh says that, “I can’t say I shed any tears.”  Or as Moshe Lavi more bluntly put it, “I think it was a nasty and rotten house when it comes to the manner in which it was maintained. I want to say good riddance, but to be honest with you I could not care less.” Reynolds was reaching its end with pest issues and some spatial issues too. Perhaps some day something new will come into the space of Reynolds House, a place where all people and things from Jews, to MSR, to 8-year old chess players are welcome.

Watson House

Another home that was reduced to broken timber this summer was Watson House, once located near Watston Hall on Maple Street. Watson House served many purposes over it’s storied years. It was once WHOA House, a residential house and was also Knight House. Knight House existed for one school year, 2007-2008 and served as a school spirit house and a home to many of the Cheer Boys. Dash Cole (’10), a Knight House resident and part-time house manager, explains that, “residents were required to go to at least two sporting events per term, which was really not that much. The house was also supposed to be an open forum for anyone who wanted to talk about Carleton athletics, from varsity to club to intramural.”  Mary Bushman, a resident the year after Knight House, says, “it became a lot more boring in its post-Cheer Boys days,” though she did appreciate the frequent visits from Toff.

Much like Reynolds, Watson was in poor physical shape during its last couple years of existence. Dash remembers feeling rather nervous about the crumbling edifice, saying,“we had parties in the basement sometimes, and there were three pillars that were structural support for the house. One of them could be moved pretty easily, and wasn’t even still connected to the ceiling. The other two just looked really shaky. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it collapsed while we were living there.” Because of this, Dash believes it was a good thing that Watson House was knocked down, though he will always remember his times there fondly.

Candidate for Mayor of Northfield by Alex Sciuto
October 13, 2008, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Northfield, Politics | Tags: , , ,

From the Political Action Committee Citizens for a Better Northfield If Brendon Is Elected Otherwise It’ll Be Four Or However Many Years of the Same: I don’t know how serious Brendan is for mayor, but his website has an aesthetic all its own. I’d post a picture from it, but it might give one of our readers a seizure. And I don’t want that hanging over my head.

-Alex Sciuto