This is Pastor Michael Stadie, Program Director for Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR).

Last week I returned from a week-long visit to the Minot, North Dakota area. As you know, the area was profoundly impacted by flooding in June of 2011. (Please see the previous blog post from Matthew Ley about the One-Year Anniversary events.)

While there, I had the opportunity to see the work going on at Hope Village, the volunteer and construction site for the rebuilding efforts by our affiliate, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSSND), and other partners. Shirley Dykshoorn is the LDR coordinator for LSSND. While the actual volunteer housing portion of Hope Village is going on hiatus, the work will continue through the winter months with volunteers staying at “satellite” sites—area congregations. Shirley and her staff are doing a great job working at making sure the volunteers and materials are coming together to efficiently help with the rebuilding process.

While progress is being made, there is still a great need for rebuilding; something that will continue for several more years. There is a special need for skilled construction workers, especially electricians and plumbers. And what is true in Minot is also true for most of the other reconstruction sites—more skilled laborers would help more families move back into their homes.

During my time there, I also made these observations:

  • This flood is unique in that it impacted every quadrant of the city.
  • The way the river flows through the city means the flood impacted many neighborhoods that are isolated from one another. For many reasons, this slows the long term recovery process.
  • Because of the above reasons, as well as some others, the long term recovery process will take longer than most flooding events.
  • Lutheran Disaster Response will need to encourage volunteer teams to work in the Minot area for a longer time than normal.

Despite the challenges, there is hope shining through, literally. The New York Says Thank You Foundation work includes asking children to make “Stars of Hope.” Children from the Minot have made stars which been put on stakes and “planted” all around the area as a symbol of hope and encouragement. These multicolored stars not only brighten up the streets, they put a smile on the face of those driving through the areas still under construction as a reminder there is indeed hope, something that the people of Minot and the surrounding area live each day.