Volunteers Fill Gap After Farmer Dies Sandbagging

OAKPORT TOWNSHIP, Minn. (AP) — Quentin Goehring died trying to save his farm from the rising Red River. Dozens of volunteers weren’t about to let his work go for nothing.

Although many never knew the 73-year-old Minnesota farmer, they trudged through calf-deep mud on Thursday, shoveling sand as skid-steer loaders zipped around the property placing sandbags to finish the protective wall Goehring was working on when he collapsed.

“We wanted to help out where they really needed help,” said Zane Miller, a 16-year-old high school student who filled sandbags with his father, Mike. “And we heard they needed help here.”

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said Goehring collapsed Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack. Goehring was taken to a Fargo, N.D., hospital where he was pronounced dead, the sheriff said.

“He had worked all day sandbagging,” said his son, Karl Goehring, 52. “It was real sudden.”

Goehring said he and his father raised cattle and hay on the farm at Oakport Township, a city of about 1,700 people a few miles north of Moorhead.

“He was real healthy, he walked every day and he worked every day,” Goehring said of his father. “He could outwork me and he could outwork his grandkids.”

Karl Goehring said the flooding at the farm was among the worst he and his father had to fight in the past decade.

About 50 volunteers, many of them students, showed up to sandbag on Thursday, Goehring said. Most did not know his father, he said.

“This is just the Midwest attitude,” he said. “It’s all about helping people out.”

Water had swamped a cornfield across from the Goehring farm on Thursday and lapped against gravel road, dangerously close to a house and barns. But Goehring said the farm would likely be spared from the river thanks to the volunteer flood-fighters. Cattle and horses at the farm were moved to higher ground, as were stockpiles of hay, he said.

Miller, the high school sophomore, was among the muddiest of the volunteers. He was excused from classes in neighboring Fargo to help out with the flood-fighting effort.

Miller said throwing 30-pound sandbags likely would help him at his track and field events, the discus and the javelin.

“This is a good workout,” he said.

Phil Sondreal, a Fargo physician, lives across the Red River from the Goehring farm but didn’t know his neighbors. The 48-year-old family practice doctor proved handy with a shovel, filling sandbags at an urgent pace.

“I heard they needed help over here so I came over to help,” Sondreal said, never stopping shoveling. “It’s a pretty sad story.”

Delene Goehring, Quentin Goehring’s daughter-in-law, called it a community effort.

“Everybody helps out,” she said. “Some of these people here don’t even know somebody passed away.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Mike

    CBS Minnesota, we need CHANGE! No more left cover stories.
    What is REALLY going on?

  • Rev. J

    Why wouldn’t you leave the sand bags there? Yep, goverment jobs, you dig a hole and fill it back up. And repeat.

  • Pavel

    Mike, you are a jerk! This is called a “public interest” article, but you wouldn’t know about that. They teach that in high school.

    • Mike

      I’m just a public person. But so are the people who write these. They know why they chose THIS story over others. They are NO different than me or you.

    • Mike

      Oh yeah Pavel, who do you work for? And I am highly educated and respected. Hmmm, CBS?

  • jeff carpentier

    It was a nice human interest story. Dang, Mike must have been beaten up in school a lot.

    • Mike

      Hey Jeff with a lowercase j, It was not a nice story. What is REALLY going on. Why do you DEMAND coverage of this EVERY year? $$$$$$$$$

  • lmc

    Mike you need to get a heart! I would much rather hear about Communities coming together than people getting shot. It is the much more common event of daily life anyway.

    • Mike

      That is the problem, thank you for proving my point.

  • Baker

    You people are jerks, I’m glad I moved to northern MN away from the metro. This man died tring to save everything he worked for, his whole life.

    Get a heart or dont comment.

  • ang

    Come on people have a little compassion. What is wrong with you Mike? A man died trying to save his farm and a community has come to the family’s aid and all you can do is complain about it . No I am not a lefty if that’s what you’re thinking . I can’t get any farther to the right than I already am.
    We all could use a little uplifting news sometimes instead of all the violence and other garbage this country spews. Please be considerate of your fellow human beings.

    • Mike

      No Ang, no bystanders anymore. One guy dying at the river is not what we should care about. This is obviously a ploy to hide the truth.

  • A sandbagger

    Rev J — Sandbags deteriorate rapidly. If you “just left them there” they would fall apart by the end of the summer. Also, when you sandbag, you are building a wall to keep the water out. If left in place, you wouldn’t be able to get from the fields to the barns and house because the sandbags would be in the way. Hence, the need to remove them after the water goes down.

    • Mike

      Hey dude, we don’t care about your situation. You cant figure out that tiny river by now? PEOPLE FROM FARO/MOOREHEAD ARE MORONS.

  • Tim

    Thank you Mike for opening my eyes to the situation surrounding my grandfathers death. I am so glad his tragic and untimely death has afforded you the forum to display your ignorance.

  • Tarah Elizabeth Goehring

    This is MY farm. This is MY Grandpa. He died in my arms Wednesday night. If you want to write negative stuff, go somewhere else. And you know what, the moral of this story is? It’s that people from the midwest are hardworkers, and we come together in a time of need. We live at 40ft. The river has only reached that twice since we’ve lived here, and we’ve been here over twenty years. If this is a bullshit story, then don’t waste your time reading. My grandpa worked his butt off his entire life, and it is a tragedy. I was by his side sandbagging the entire day, and I live on the farm with him. Our life has forever been changed

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