Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A personal flood timeline, part one

Before posting thoughts about God's work in and through this flood, it seems wise to provide some basic information regarding the flood itself. The best way for me to do that is not posting bland statistics but by telling my own timeline story. For those of you who are involved in the flood, this timeline might prove helpful as a framework for processing your own unfolding story. For those of you not in Minot, it will give you a picture (albeit a very subjective one) of what our experiences here at Trinity and in our city have been like. Again, this is just my story, but it is characteristic of thousands of other stories being written by the finger of God in the face of the flood. Part one will give you some background to the flood, documenting the first evacuation which we experienced during the first week of June.

The Minot Flood – a personal timeline

Winter 2010-11 – record snow falls on already saturated ground

Spring 2011 – wet snow and rain in March, April and May

Evacuation #1

Saturday May 28th
• The city of Minot alerts its residents of an impending storm sewer backup due to high river levels and the break of a pump on Minot’s east side.
• A colossal line forms outside MAC’s hardware with customers looking to purchase drain plugs.
• Since we couldn’t find drain plugs to fit our basement drains, the Perrys plug their drains with the homemade remedy of oatmeal filled socks. I’d been wanting to get rid of those 20 year old socks anyway.

Sunday May 29th
• A drain plug exchange takes place after our worship service in an effort to ensure that people had the right size plugs.

Monday May 30th
• As an Army veteran, I played a role in Minot’s Memorial Day ceremony and then took my family to the annual chili feed at the local VFW. Dan Offerdahl, a friend from church who’d joined us for lunch, left the VFW to help fill sandbags at the Minot Public Works. Sandbagging began around low-lying buildings. Sandbags were made available to residents for personal use.

Tuesday May 31st
• I went into church as usual to work on my weekly sermon.
• Facebook becomes all abuzz about the rising river.
• 11 am - Jason Skjervem (our local Campus Crusade staffer and fellow church elder) needs help clearing out his basement. His house is adjacent to the main river channel.
• 11:30 am - While heading out the door to help Jason, Doug Wagner, our church chairman, calls letting me know that my neighborhood was under a mandatory evacuation order.
• Early afternoon - I helped Terri (my wife) clear the larger things out of our basement. I secured five sandbags from Minot Public Works and placed them over my various basement drains. Knowing we would be losing electrical service to our house, Kevin Burckhard, Jay Wahlund and Jane Kelly help us get our frozen food to other freezers around the city.
• Mid afternoon I helped a group from church move stuff out of Casey and Michelle Ellis’s basement to higher ground.
• Late afternoon, that crew decided (with Terri) that we needed important things from our main level higher and put our furniture and piano on blocks and sawhorses in our living and dining rooms. Our basement appliances were moved into our kitchen and dining room. I downplayed the emergency, explaining that the real threat was storm sewer backup, not an outright flood of the city by the river. I told my friends that I thought their work was unnecessary. Most of us thought we were well out of harm’s way.
• By 10 pm a mandatory evacuation order compelled all citizens within short reach of the river out of our homes. We were graciously welcomed into the home of Doug and Diane Wagner. Other Trinity families found refuge in area homes. Only one, to my knowledge, at that point, left the city entirely.

Wednesday June 1st through Monday June 6th
• Hundreds of citizens fill sandbags at three area locations to raise the dikes around Minot and the nearby town of Burlington. Area restaurants feed the sandbaggers and other workers for free. The National Guard begins patrolling the evacuated area and takes charge of sandbagging/dike-building efforts. Minot State, Minot Air Force Base and other area businesses allow their workers to take time off to fill sandbags and build dikes.
• Local contractors and state and city workers begin excavating massive amounts of local clay to build up the dikes along the Souris River and successfully stop an impending flood.

Friday June 3rd
• A citywide prayer meeting put on by the city’s evangelical churches is held at First Baptist Church.

Friday June 3rd through Monday June 6th
• Minot’s 10,000 evacuees are allowed to return to our homes. I compensate the Wagner’s for things one of his sons broke in their home.
• Basement drains remain plugged due to continuing worries about storm sewer backup in light of the high river volume.

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