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Minot, North Dakota, Journal

Monday, July 11, 2011

Faith United Methodist Church remains underwater, but the congregation’s ministry to neighbors in need continues.
Photo: Courtesy of Lee Gale

I just arrived home from Minot. It's been a trying and emotional time. You can't comprehend the devastation until you see it for yourself.

The things we take for granted just aren't there. Water has to be boiled before use, and only bottled water may be consumed. Trash has to be disposed of immediately. Restaurants are serving their meals on foam plates, with plastic knives and forks. Coffee isn't made, and there’s no fountain soda.

It is taking citizens of Minot up to four hours to get their mail because the post office is overwhelmed. Traffic on Broadway, all the way through town, is bumper-to-bumper, and a driver can only turn off of Broadway at certain intersections.

As of this morning, there are 806 homes that are unsafe to inhabit and will be destroyed. In the end, there may be as many as 2,000 or more. Water is slowly going down, but a heavy rain on Friday night kept the river up.

Tent cities have popped up when people have nowhere to go. One person I spoke with said he saved from his basement apartment only what was in the tent. He also lost his job because his place of employment is underwater.

Another woman living in the tent city, with only the belongings she could save, went to a Red Cross facility to take a shower, and while she was in the shower, her purse was stolen with all the money she had from her last paycheck.

These are only some of the stories that have come out of this disaster. It will take years to recover what has been lost.

And out of adversity Faith UMC continues to do the mission work they're known for. The food pantry they had in the church basement has gone mobile. A local dealer loaned Bob and Ada Lower a new trailer, which they have equipped with a refrigerator and a deep freeze. With it, they are delivering food to their clients, who frequent the food pantry. They are planning to take the trailer full of food to the tent city to make sure the people there have food.

This is an amazing ministry staffed by amazing people who know the true calling of their church to reach out to the poor and hungry. The Rev. Debra Ball-Kilbourne and others of her congregation are doing what they can to apply for grants to help rebuild their church. Rev. Debra also has a story of loss and emotion to tell, as she works to serve her congregation and get ready for case management by teaching and doing.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Lee Gale
Dakotas Annual Conference
Disaster Response Coordinator for North Dakota

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