Thousands of people in Minot are still out of their homes -- but they have vowed to return.
North Dakota City Welcomes Post-flood Help
By Susan Kim*
May 29, 2012 —Haley Hoch, 17, is helping to haul a washer and dryer into a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer in Minot, North Dakota. This trailer is home, at least temporarily, to a 52-year-old woman who has cancer. Undergoing chemotherapy treatments, she has been finding it physically impossible to haul her laundry to the laundromat.
The woman in the FEMA trailer lost her house when the Souris River deluged this North Dakota city, destroying or damaging more than 4,000 homes and businesses.
One year later, volunteers from within North Dakota and across the nation are reaching out to help flood survivors, many of whom are still in early phases of recovery. UMCOR has contributed $510,000 to the Dakotas Annual Conference to help flood survivors cope with a recovery that could draw out for another two years.
Hoch traveled to Minot with her youth group from the Ainsworth United Methodist Church in Nebraska. “We're always open to travel, and we had heard about the floods here,” she said. “We've also been to Louisiana and to other places as well.”
Minot needs even more volunteers like Hoch, said the Rev. Lee Gale, North Dakota disaster response coordinator for the Dakotas conference. “Twenty homes haven't even been mucked out yet,” he said. “With all the breaking disasters around the country, plus our lack of volunteer housing, recovery has been slow.”
But the challenge of volunteer housing is now being met through Hope Village, a unified volunteer center supported by UMCOR, as well as by the City of Minot, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, and others.
“Before Hope Village, we had a volunteer housing capacity of zero,” said Bob Lower, associate director of disaster relief for Minot, who was driving Hoch and other volunteers to homes that needed repairs or supplies. “But Hope Village is changing that. We know this recovery is going to go on for a couple years, and Hope Village can accommodate 300 people.”
Within Minot, churches, such as the Faith United Methodist Church, have been working diligently to assist people, added Gale. But that congregation had to vacate its building, and now needs to raise $440,000 for a new sanctuary. Even with the happy hum of volunteers and the promise of more help to come, Faith UMC's predicament is bothering Gale.
“I'd just hate to lose a church,” he said.
Help flood survivors in Minot and other places receive the help they need. Give to US Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #901670
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.UMCOR.org.