Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Editorial News
Classified Sites


Shoppers take shelter in Grand Forks arena

Red Cross pitches in to help stranded city expedition

Thanks to the American Red Cross, a busload of 38 Winnipeg shoppers trapped in Grand Forks by the snowstorm ended up sleeping on emergency cots with grey wool blankets Monday night, using their purses and sweaters as pillows.

The Red Cross originally expected to set up the Alerus Center, an indoor arena and entertainment facility adjacent to the Canad Inn, for the stranded women from Canada.

However, more than 200 other people arrived Monday night after the centre opened its doors to the Canadians, who were desperate for beds and shelter.

The border was closed, the highways impassable, and the busload trapped in Grand Forks couldn't find a place to stay.

The long-weekend shoppers, who went to Fargo and Grand Forks for a three-day shopping blitz, escaped the storm in the makeshift shelter, for which they were grateful to the American Red Cross, which mobilized on a dime.

"No room at the inn!" was the bitter news trip organizers Franca Cannata and Christian Tompkins heard over and over in Grand Forks during Monday's storm.

With killer temperatures and a complete whiteout on area highways, traffic was at a standstill and not one hotel room in the entire city was available.

It was the last night of what had been a deluxe Presidents Day weekend shopping bus trip in Fargo. The bus, driven by retired police officer Tom Mah, managed to get from Fargo to Grand Forks Monday morning in hopes of a last afternoon of shopping and the border perhaps reopening by suppertime.

But the storm suddenly worsened around noon and the Columbia Mall surprised everyone by closing at 1 p.m. and sending staff home.

With no rooms available in the North Dakota city, Cannata and Tompkins took their anxious group to Buffalo Wild Wings for "happy" hour.

A server, hearing their plight. suggested calling the Red Cross. Police were notified, too, and Grand Forks swung into action, opening the 21,000-seat Alerus Center for about 250 stranded travellers.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.


Make text: Larger | Smaller

Gold Rush Wheat Kings Charity Auction
The First World War at 100
Why Not Minot?

Social Media