Darryl Janhonen, of Brunsdale, ND, just south of Fargo, decided three weeks ago to sell off his 100,000-plus sandbag collection on the popular on-line auction site. Janhonen, 47, has been collecting the bags for nearly a decade and meticulously numbers them in alphabetical order. Most of his bags are from towns within the Red River watershed, which, contrary to popular belief, is not a tributary of the Mississippi River.
"It's a hobby. In fact, It's a very popular hobby in the Fargo/North Dakota/Minnesota metroplex," said Janhonen.
Janhonen was eager to finally cash in on his longtime hobby. That is until the Red River, the border between North Dakota and Minnesota, began to rapidly rise last week toward record levels threatening many towns along the waterway. The father of four was never looking to earn extra cash at the expense of others.
"He was merely selling his collection," explained Mary Janhonen, Darryl's mother. "He wasn't looking to jack up the price and take advantage of people. He started the auction long before the river was rising."
The former resident of Moorhead, MN, just across the river from Fargo, decided he wanted to help the battered residents of these flood-prone cities. Not only would he physically lend a hand by pumping water from yards and basements back into the river, but Janhonen decided to shorten the length of his sandbag auction.
"The final day of the auction was suppose to be next Wednesday, but I moved it up to Saturday. That way desperately needed bags can arrive where they are most needed in plenty of time."
Fargo police, firemen and residents laboring to save the city all lauded the gesture by the native North Dakotan. The Fargo Chief of police, Dennis Samuelson, called it "the sign of a true sandbag collector."
"God bless him for moving the auction deadline up. Those sandbags are badly needed [in Fargo]. He's a hero. A 'dam' hero," said Northport, ND resident Haily Alfredson.
"I just hope Susy P. from Fargo wins the auction. All the other bidders are from Boise, Idaho. That would be a shame to send them all out west," said Janhonen.