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Remarkable Woman: Karolin Jappe does all she can to keep McKenzie County safe

Local News

You may have heard the term “one-man band,” and for one Watford City woman, she’s making the term all her own while finding her passion through a journey of many detours.

KX News shares this Remarkable Woman’s story.

“In 2012, I moved here from western Montana to work,” Karolin Jappe said.

Jappe is McKenzie Counties Emergency Manager, but like most, her journey didn’t just begin there.

“My goal when I graduated from high school was to become a ski bum in Aspen, Colorado, but that didn’t work,” Jappe said. “I love to ski and so I really didn’t have any– what I did after high school, I went to beauty school.”

But that, she says, was forced.

“Well my dad threatened me if I didn’t pick a college or a university he would put me in beauty school and I thought he was joking. He was not joking,” she said.

Jappe, a woman of humor, later went on to find her purpose in life.

“I was a county commissioner in Montana and our emergency manager in that county sent me to Maryland to attend an all-hazards class at Emergency Management Institute. It was a week-long course and through that class, I learned so much about emergency management and it actually became a passion of mine,” Jappe said.

So, she asked to go again.

“So, every year I’d have him send me to a new class and it just built upon that,” she said. “I did ride alongs all across the country and it’s something I truly believe in and I thought if I ever grow up that’s what I wanted to be, that’s what I wanted to do.”

And so, finding herself in Watford City some odd years later, that opportunity presented itself.

“I got a call from the previous emergency manager here saying that they did have an opening coming up and he knew that that was a passion of mine,” Jappe said.

She hit the ground running May 1 of 2014 and was forced to adjust quickly.

“Third week on the job I had my first tornado. I think that’s called baptism by fire,” she said.

Over the last seven years, Jappe has perfected the craft of being the emergency manager.

Whether that’s putting together full scale exercises for emergency personnel…

“It’s good because we can see what we’re good at, what we’re not good at and what we can improve,” she said.

…To keeping the community safe by getting tornado shelters installed after the 2019 tornado.

“Each of the tornado shelters out at Tobacco Gardens can hold up to 48 people in each one as well as two people in wheelchairs in case you have someone with a disability. So, I feel a lot better now that we have somewhere for those folks to go because even high straight winds can even turn an RV right over,” she said.

These are only a small piece of what she’s accounted for, but what makes Jappe so remarkable is that she does all of this on her own — and no matter how stressful it may seem, she says she wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It’s part of the whole emergency management. I mean I do everything I can,” she said.

Jappe says she’s also a huge advocate for veterans and getting them the services they need and deserve.

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