Posts Tagged ‘Red River’
A homeless Winnipeg man risked his life to save a teenager from the Red River on Sunday afternoon.
Faron Hall, 44, who lives on the banks of the Red in St. Boniface, said he saw the male teen fall from the Provencher Bridge above where he was sitting with friend Wayne Spence. Hall said the teen appeared to jump.
“He was saying, ‘It’s cold! Help me!’ and I just threw off my backpack and ran down and dived in,” said Hall, who is originally from Dakota Tipi First Nation but mostly grew up in foster care in Winnipeg.
Hall said he managed to get a grip of the teen about 30 metres from the bank but was afraid both would be swept away by the rapid, cold waters.
“He was fighting me and I told him, ‘Don’t fight me! I’m trying to save you. Otherwise we’re both going to drown’,” Hall said. “He was pushing me under and I had to slap him in the head. I hated to do it, but I said, ‘I’ll bring us to shore. Just trust me.’ He went limp and I got him to the grass.”
Hall said his friend Spence helped pull the exhausted and freezing Hall and the teen out.
“The firefighters said to me, ‘You’re a hero, you saved a life’.” Hall said. “I said, ‘Well, possibly, but can I get a blanket? I’m kind of cold.’ “
Hall downplayed the hero tag.
“I don’t think I’m a hero. I’m just a human being,” he said yesterday.
Hall was transported to St. Boniface General Hospital — along with the teen, whose condition is unknown — where he warmed up for several hours before being released. Before leaving the hospital, he visited the teen he pulled from the river.
“I just asked him, ‘Why?’ That’s all I said to him,” Hall said. “He just said he was sorry.”
Hall said he’d like to see the teen and his family in the future.
“I’m not ever going to forget what I saw,” Hall said of the incident. “That boy’s got his whole life ahead of him.”
Hall is no stranger to tragedy. His sister Kristi Hall, 36, was stabbed to death in a random attack in July 2007 in the North End.
“Maybe that’s why I didn’t want to let anyone else die,” he said of the river rescue.
Hall, who has been homeless for about seven years, said he spent Sunday night at the Main Street Project shelter on Martha Street but sleeps year-round along the banks of the Red near the rescue spot, where he said he plans to continue living.
“I just do my own thing,” Hall said. “I don’t bother anybody.”
After graduating high school, Hall said he worked as a teacher’s aide while studying education at the University of Manitoba for two years before his life took a turn for the worse.
“That’s when I hit alcoholism,” Hall said. “I’ve had so many pitfalls in my life.”
Hall said he last worked on construction jobs in Saskatchewan before returning to Winnipeg about 10 years ago.
Read more: Homeless man saves teen from drowning
Having grown up in an area, in Louisiana, that is at the mercy of Mother Nature, this story reminds me of how good it feels when a community comes together.
As the swelling Red River lapped within 30 feet of his back door, Carlis Kramer’s property resembled nothing so much as a bustling construction site.In a well-ordered ballet, four people loaded sandbags, four others hauled them to the house and another person stacked them into a dike.
This is how Fargo responds to the threat of record flooding: Hundreds of people from all walks of life have joined forces to shield the community from the rising river, racing to fill 2 million sandbags.
The effort has drawn football players, soldiers, high school students, even a Microsoft engineer — all fearful of enduring another disaster like the devastating floods of 1997.
“A friend of mine brought his neighbor’s kids, and friends of family bring boyfriends and girlfriends,” Kramer said.
The 1997 floods forced tens of thousands of people to flee homes in North Dakota, Minnesota and southern Canada in one of the costliest and largest flood evacuations in U.S. history before Hurricane Katrina. The disaster killed 11 people in the Dakotas and Minnesota and caused an estimated $4.1 billion in damage.
In Fargo, Noah Addy was among dozens of volunteers who gathered around huge sand piles at the Fargodome indoor football stadium to shovel sand into bags.
While most workers needed two hands to drag the bags onto piles, the muscular Addy tossed them like they were pillows.
A native of Ghana, he moved to Fargo about eight years ago for college. Now an engineer for Microsoft, he did not hesitate when the company offered its Fargo employees time off to help.
“I didn’t experience the 1997 flood, but everybody told me how bad it was, so I feel that helping is the right thing to do,” Addy said.
Not far away, near a home in south Fargo, Phil Hansen handled sandbags as easily as Addy.
Hansen grew up in North Dakota, then went on to play pro football for the Buffalo Bills. In his playing days, Hansen teamed with Bruce Smith to form one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos.
On Tuesday, Hansen’s mouth was bloody from the work.
“I bit my tongue, and I haven’t stopped bleeding for two hours,” said Hansen, who now lives in nearby Detroit Lakes, Minn. “It feels good to help, though.”
Read more and watch this story: In Race Against River, Fargo Pulls Together