What started out as a frightening awakening turned into a blessed community event for a school teacher and her neighbors. One day a couple of months ago, Suzi Ferris stayed calm as she was told that her house in the Kent valley, and everything in it, was at risk. The city proceeded to warn her that there was a problem with the embankment next to the dam, and that there was a one-in-three chance they would have to release water from the dam, resulting in massive flooding and water damage for a multitude of houses. The residents of the nearby area were told to have a bag packed for immediate evacuation, and to prepare to be absent from their homes for weeks until the warning subsided.
Along with her neighbors, Ferris was given access to sand and sand bags; but finding it impossible to fill them herself, she sought assistance. As a full-time Spanish teacher at Cedar Park Christian School in Bothell, she knew she could always depend on her school. Ferris related her current situation to a close teacher, and he transferred the information into an announcement during the school’s staff devotions. The reply resulted in making an announcement to the entire high school, offering them community service hours if they came to fill sand bags.
While Ferris hoped there would be a large turnout, what she found as she drove to the Kent East Hill Fred Meyer that Oct. 31 morning caused her to thank God for the students of Cedar Park. “It just confirmed the fact that the students of Cedar Park are the greatest students on Earth,” she said. Five staff members, along with their families, and an accumulation of at least 20 students were waiting, shovels in hand.
While many students came and went periodically, some remained for the full six hours including senior Kaylie Chinn, who helped fill more than 650 sand bags in one day. “It feels good to do good things for others,” she said. The work consisted of hard labor, as the helpers filled, tied, lifted and placed heavy bags from the unloading station to the loading station.
During the day, then-King County executive candidate Susan Hutchison pleasantly surprised many by bringing half a dozen young men with shovels to help out. Along with a few extra workers, Hutchison led the KIRO 7 News team to record the outstanding community service taking place. When asked if they would do this again, senior basketball players Matt Broman and Josh Zoellick said, “Yeah, it was a blast for a good cause.”
After a while, the students and families finished bagging for Ferris’ home and instead of walking away saying the job was done, they remained and continued to fill and line bags for both of her neighbors. These neighbors were so overwhelmed by the extraordinary act of unselfish students that one of them wrote the students a letter, which was read over the intercom to the entire school days after the event.
While Ferris is incredibly thankful for the 650 bags that were filled, not only for her house, but for her neighbors, as well, she knows that the fear is not completely over as the dam has not been released yet. The flood season lasts from Nov. 1 until the beginning of April, and when the warning is eliminated, all of the sand bags are required to be removed. Both Broman and Zoellick agreed: “We would do anything for Ferris. We’ll have to go back.”
Overjoyed by the amount of unselfishness and love that these people brought to her and the community, Ferris says, “It’s really gratifying to know they care enough to make that sacrifice. It was a Saturday, it was Halloween, there was no pay, it was physical labor, and for them to hang in there hour after hour was worthy of great respect. I was blessed to see the degree of commitment. They didn’t stop until the job was done.”
Elizabeth Cummings is a Cedar Park Christian senior.