All Politics Aside, #NoDAPL Protesters Should Take Heed of Changing Weather


Tina Pasun, 33, Arizona, sorts donated food Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, for the main kitchen in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp north of Cannon Ball, N.D. Pasun describes herself as “totally nomadic”. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

“There are many people in the area that have not experienced a North Dakota winter,” Tim Wiedrich, the North Dakota Department of Health’s Emergency Services Section Chief, says in a press release out today. “We encourage those individuals to listen in and take the necessary action steps to protect themselves and those around them before a winter weather event or other emergency occurs.”

The press release (see below) is announcing the activation of a low power radio station broadcasting, on the 1620 AM frequency, emergency information about the weather and other topics to folks in the area of the #NoDAPL protests.

This is serious business. I’m not in the habit of using SAB to make public service announcements, but I’m genuinely worried about this situation. We all make a lot of jokes about the weather in North Dakota, but in truth it can get very dangerous, very quickly.

Especially for people trying to camp out in this weather, making do with tents and portable heaters. Not only is the cold itself a threat, but heaters can malfunction. Cause fires. Heaters powered by gas or other types of combustible fuels can, when used improperly in structures without the requisite ventilation, can cause serious problems.

Even people who live in North Dakota, who know a thing or two about the winters here, can make a potentially injurious or even life-threatening mistake when trying to camp out in extreme conditions.

So far we’ve enjoyed a mild fall but the forecasts, for what they’re worth, tell us we’re going to see a major shift in the weather later this week. The weather people are expecting cold and snow. The protesters and their organizers need to react appropriately to, at the very least, get children and the elderly indoors.

Healthy adults really shouldn’t be risking this either.

I write this not as someone who has been a consistent critic of the goals and tactics of the #NoDAPL movement but as a fellow human being who would rather not read news stories about frozen or asphyxiated corpses found in protest camps.

Be safe. Find cover. And if you’re in trouble, please contact the authorities immediately. I’m certain they will respond with alacrity despite the abuse and recriminations hurled at them by the more extreme elements of this protest movement.

Here’s the full press release:

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