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North Dakota leaders discuss the challenges of crisis management

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Gov. Doug Burgum says the state hasn’t been crisis-free since he took office, from record droughts to flooding, to huge economic downturn, the DAPL protests, and now, the pandemic.

This was all in a discussion with other state leaders in the final panel of the 2020 Greater North Dakota Chamber Policy Summit.

“We set up the first drive-thru testing in Amidon, which seems, you know, years ago now,” said Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann of the North Dakota National Guard.

Strengths and hardship in the last six months was the topic on the table.

The MDU Resources President discussed keeping utilities running in the state, after sending 3,500 employees home, which added another challenge as cyberattacks against North Dakotans increased five to sevenfold, according to the Governor.

“I mean, we have millions of hits against our firewall daily,” added the MDU President, David Goodin.

Monsignor James Shea of the University of Mary brought up evacuating the school on St. Patrick’s Day.

“I put on my green sweater and I went over to The Crow’s Nest, which is our 24/7 campus restaurant. I went over there about 6 in the morning and I sat all day long, talking to students and giving travel blessings. And um…it was devastating,” he explained.

Monsignor Shea reminded the other leaders in the room of the importance of staying strong for teenagers and young adults, coming of age in the middle of huge uncertainty.

“Obviously you can only be shell shocked for so long, right? And then you have to pivot very, very quickly,” added Jill Berg, the Owner/President of Spherion Staffing Services, also on the panel.

But the North Dakota National Guard Major General told us it’s the unsung heroes, including hundreds of soldiers, who are keeping the state running.

“You’ve seen it in floods, you’ve seen it in fires, you’ve seen it during the pandemic: that in the state of North Dakota, there’s really only one reserve to call upon in times of crisis and that’s the National Guard,” Maj. Gen. Dohrmann said.

Even though his job as the head of the Guard and the Department of Emergency Services is to prepare for crisis as a career, this is the third-largest deployment in the history of the North Dakota National Guard.

“And I don’t want to toot my own horn, so I’m going to toot the horn of the young men and women who joined the National Guard,” he added. “Those war-time missions we train for, those same skills allow us to quickly adapt and handle any emergency domestically.”

And from a poll taken by the Greater North Dakota Chamber, it’s apparent, North Dakotans say the pandemic is the state’s biggest crisis yet.

As time ran out for the panel discussion, Maj. Gen. Dohrmann added, “It’s when you’re put in situations that are really uncomfortable, that’s when you learn to rise up.”

And Berg says, you don’t have to have a leadership position as your job title to lead, by inspiring others.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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