Flood Washes Away Buildings, Not Community

This is how Christ Lutheran Church, Minot, appeared during the flood. Photo courtesy Minot Daily News.

By Katie Livingood
Synod Communications Director

It has been almost a year since the Souris River reached record flood levels in Minot, N.D. The river peaked at 1,561.72 feet, nearly four feet higher than the city’s all-time mark of 1,558 feet set in 1881. The receding floodwaters left behind more than 5,000 damaged or destroyed homes and businesses.

One such damaged building was the building of Christ Lutheran Church. The congregation’s basement was completely ruined and there were two feet of water on the main floor. Everything in the basement, including the congregation’s kitchen and a day care run by two members, was destroyed; drywall, carpet, and pews from the main floor were all ruined. They estimate a cost of $1 million to 1.5 million to rebuild. As of January 25, 2012, when Matthew Ley of ELCA Disaster Response visited Christ’s building, they had already invested $250,000 just to get to a point where they could make a decision about the next step.

Rev. Heather Brown, a resident of Minot who serves two rural congregations outside of Minot, was one of those whose home was damaged. During Ley’s visit of Minot, she gave him a tour of her home and told him how over 100 volunteers have been through her home helping to restore it. According to Ley, “She said this flood has really shown her what it means to be the Body of Christ. She’d known how to preach it before but now she was getting first-hand experience as to how it was lived.”

Throughout the recovery process, Lutherans and Lutheran organizations from around the country have been helping the community of Minot get back on their feet. Minot congregations and businesses have hosted congregations who have been displaced from their buildings and volunteers coming to help rebuild. Mission Investment Fund has prioritized loans for congregations damaged by the floods and is helping them plan for the long-term. ELCA Disaster Response has funded restoration projects. Lutheran Disaster Response has coordinated volunteers. Individuals from around the country have given financially, sent material donations, and volunteered their own time to the people of Minot.

Our own Southeastern Minnesota Synod has responded by sending a gift of $3,000 in the fall of 2011 to help with the long recovery process.

Rev. Glenn Monson, Our Savior's, Austin, removing floor tile.

A group of volunteers from Our Savior’s Lutheran, Austin, Minn., arrived in Minot in late August 2011. Two months after the river peaked, the damage was still overwhelming. Water stood in many homes for nearly a month before the pumping could begin and it was another month after that when real renovation could begin.

Rev. Ken Nelson, First Lutheran Church, Minot, N.D., another congregation that sustained considerable damage, was impressed by the generosity of people throughout this experience. He was quoted in the Minot Daily News saying, “People continued to give generously to the people here and to the Lutheran Disaster Response volunteers and to make the Tree of Hope campaign (a project to collect and donate Christmas decorations to those who lost all of theirs) so successful.”

Through the generosity of many, including the Lutheran community, those whose buildings and possessions were lost to nature in 2011 have been blessed by the love of Christ’s church and have been able to start the process of rebuilding their lives.

Rev. Michael Johnson from Christ Lutheran said what they need most to continue this process is prayer. However else you choose to respond, we can all continue to support the Minot area in prayer.

Check out the March issue of River Crossings for a similar story about the response in New England the watch the Mary issue for a story from northeastern Iowa. See also the March issue of the Bridge (included in the February River Crossings) for more on this story.

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