For residents of towns along the Red River and the Missouri River in North Dakota, flooding is no stranger. Devastating inundations have become all too familiar, and this year's flooding has disrupted the lives of thousands whose homes, businesses, factories and schools have been affected in one way or another.
As those residents watched floodwater rise closer and closer last month, they organized human brigades to put up temporary levees of millions of sandbags. As the rivers began to return to their banks this week, there were sighs of relief that most of the levees had held off the water.
In the midst of the flood threats came acts of kindness. Homeowners on higher ground offered those less fortunate shelter and food. Countless meals were served to volunteers filling sandbag after sandbag. Individuals found hundreds of ways to help those whose lives had been disrupted by swirling water.
This is the best of human nature: the desire to help those who are struggling, no matter what the cause. We saw it during the devastating ice storm that paralyzed much of Southeast Missouri earlier this year. And we remember those who were flooded out of their homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and found their way to open arms, shelter, hot meals and dry clothes in Southeast Missouri. Some of them were so taken with our hospitality that they decided to stay and make their homes here.
A hearty thanks to all who, in times of crisis, look for ways to help others. It is a test like this that shows us the real measure of human compassion.