Crews tackle once-flooded Minot
    August 8 2011 by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press

    MINOT, N.D. — Twenty state Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are now deployed in Minot, N.D., or en route — eager to assist the thousands of flood victims in this north central North Dakota city of 41,000.

    Soon after the sirens blared on June 22 — the signal for residents in nine city zones to evacuate their homes due to the quickly rising Souris River, which snakes through a valley running through Minot — floodwaters engulfed the land along the river’s edge. Dozens of homes along tree-lined streets, businesses and entire shopping centers were inundated. Despite a serious lack of housing, 135 Southern Baptist volunteers are on the scene.

    “Things are going well,” said Bruce Poss, disaster relief coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Alpharetta, Ga., who came to Minot with a few other NAMB staffers, plus Jack Shelby, state disaster relief director in Illinois, who is serving as incident commander inside NAMB’s 30-foot incident command trailer parked outside North Hill Church.

    Most of the current 135 volunteers are mud-out workers, while 24 volunteers from the Arkansas and Kansas/Nebraska conventions are handling the major feeding site at North Hill Church in Minot. Also, volunteers have:
    • prepared more than 48,000 meals.
    • completed some 2,800 laundry loads and showers for Baptist volunteers and victims.
    • finished 29 mud-out jobs.
    • made almost 1,400 chaplaincy visits, ministry contacts and Gospel presentations, with 16 decisions for Christ recorded.
    “We still have a need for more teams,” Poss said. “We finally got additional housing set up, which was a problem,” he said, referring to the fact that hotel and motel rooms in Minot are booked solid by flood victims and the area’s oilfield workers.

    Photo by Jim Whitmer

    Members of the North Carolina shower and laundry disaster relief team drove 1,800 miles and three days to do 1,300 loads of laundry since arriving in Minot, N.D. Left to right are Barbara Spence, Burlington, Glen Hope Baptist Church; Betty Arnette, Boone, Mt. Vernon Baptist Church; and Catherine and Howard Bass, Fayetteville.

    “Our goal is to be done by the end of September, and we’ll keep on going until all of the mud-out jobs are finished.”

    Poss said the need to be finished by September is because the harsh North Dakota winters come early, sometimes with snow as early as October.

    North Hill Baptist Church pastor, Dan Andrus, was himself impacted by the floods, which left two feet of water in his basement — ruining major appliances and forcing him and his family to move out temporarily. The church itself, located north of downtown Minot, escaped the flood.

    “We’re a small church, but we have a big facility here. That’s why we offered our campus for the command center and feeding site,” said Andrus, who’s served North Hill for the last 15 months. He said three church families were affected by the flood and had stored their salvaged furniture at the church.

    One of Andrus’ core leaders at North Hill Baptist, Doug Hollingsworth — and his family — managed to save some of their belongings but not all before the sirens blew on June 22, forcing them to evacuate.

    “We don’t know when we’ll be able to move back to our house,” Hollingsworth said. “We can only watch the continuous news coverage and hope that things will be OK.

    “I take my responsibility from God to take care of my family seriously, so to lose my house would be devastating,” said Hollingsworth, a 24-year military veteran. “Sure, tears were shed but I realize God is in control. God has a plan. I felt frustrated, sad, tired, sick and weak. I felt like giving up. But when I pray to God and leave it in His hands, I let it go and realize it will be what it will be. Any damage ... to our house can be repaired. But our ‘home’ will stay intact.”

    Harold Johnson of Arkadelphia, Ark., the “blue hat” leader for the disaster relief feeding operation at North Hill, said his team has prepared three meals a day since last Friday, when the Arkadelphia contingent arrived. They will be serving hot meals for another week and then be relieved by a feeding team from another state.

    But the men and women in the “trenches” are the mud-out teams — those working in 90-degree heat and humidity to handle the 389 requests from local citizens for assistance, many of whom have already begun mud-out and tear-out on their homes themselves. Billy Gilmore of Amarillo is the “blue hat” for a 16-member team — including five women — working on gutted homes near downtown Minot. It took Gilmore and his team two days to drive from Texas to Minot.

    Gilmore, a seven-year veteran of disaster relief, has participated in response to disasters all over the United States and even in Thailand, Greece and Nicaragua. “I do it for the love the Lord. The Lord says ‘Go’ and I go,” he said.

    The week’s highlight for Gilmore’s team was leading a 26-year-old man — whose home on Second Avenue was destroyed by the flood — to Christ. While the crew worked on the man house, Gilmore’s team — along with a disaster relief chaplain — also labored over the man, talking with and praying for him.

    “It took all 16 of us to bring (him) to Christ, not just one person,” said Gilmore. “We don’t deserve any credit. Give the Lord the credit. We were all fired up by it. It inspired us and gave us all a glow.”

    According to FEMA, the June flooding resulted in $100 million in damages in Minot and eight other North Dakota counties. Receiving 8,800 requests for assistance, FEMA has already paid out $77 million for temporary housing and home repairs, according to local news reports.

    The 135 volunteers on the ground represent the Texas Baptist Men (BGCT), and other state conventions from Arkansas, Kansas/Nebraska, Texas (SBTC), Ohio, Indiana, the Dakotas, Illinois, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Carolina and Kentucky. Teams are being housed in Minot at Cross Roads Baptist Church, North Hill Baptist Church, Bethel Free Lutheran Church, Our Redeemer Church, and Minot High School.

    Other SBDR teams en route to Minot are from state conventions in Arizona, California, Georgia, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah/Idaho and Virginia, and additional Texas teams from BGCT and SBTC.

    To donate to NAMB’s disaster relief fund visit and hit the “donate” button. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Donations can also be sent via texting “NAMBDR” to the number “40579.” A one-time donation of $10 will be added to the caller’s mobile phone bill or deducted from any prepaid balance.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah writes for the North American Mission Board.)
    8/8/2011 7:59:00 AM by Mickey Noah, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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