The rains that struck northeastern Minnesota at the end of July are still having an effect on the surrounding communities. Below is an update on the situation of McGregor and Big Sandy Lake from Pr. Karen G. Bockelman, Disaster Coordination for the Northeastern Minnesota Synod (ELCA). It’s a good reminder that disaster response is a marathon not a sprint and that need will continue long after the initial impact of the rains.
REPORT: Big Sandy Lake, north of McGregor, is within the Mississippi River watershed and was very heavily hit by the rains/flooding in June. It took the Mississippi River some time to crest, resulting in weeks of standing water. Only now (a month later) is it safe to begin clean up in the McGregor area. It has taken this long for the water to go down. The presence of E. coli in the water (now tested safe) as well as major fish and snail kills have contributed to the delay. All but a couple small sections of road are now passable. However, the sheriff warns that any more significant rainfall will cause the lake to rise again and might lead to still more delay.
Aitkin County officials are preparing to start the clean up process on Monday, July 23. Grace Lutheran Church, which has been serving as an information site and supply depot, will be the staging area for volunteers.
Regarding this work at Grace Lutheran Church, I have received a few email updates and pictures from a couple who have been working with the church in this response, which I include below. Their testimony is a great example of how we can accomplish more when we work together as the body of Christ.
“I am a member of Holy Family Catholic Church in McGregor, MN. My husband and I are volunteers assisting at Grace Lutheran [in McGregor, MN] in their mission to aid in flood relief services. The need for this service is evident in the numbers of people who continue to visit Grace Church’s relief services area. Grace Lutheran is a beautiful church with amenities well-suited to this effort and it’s congregation is a community-minded resource for our area. Grace Lutheran and Holy Family participate in and enjoy women’s functions together as well. Grace Lutheran truly “lives” its mission statement.”