Community battles back

Jean Schempp, Minot

Two years ago water roared through our community. As the waters swept through the heart of our pretty little city, it took so much from so many. People in every stage of life from young singles who had just gotten their first apartment, to young families in their first home families who had worked years for the homes they so lovingly created, to elderly couples who labored for decades and were finally enjoying the life they had built in their forever homes….in a few short hours, all of them had all of it just taken away.

Each of us handled our loss in the way that worked best for us. Some found the strength to rebuild the very home that was destroyed, bravely staking a claim against the river, saying “This is my home. You will not take it from me.” Some found the strength to say goodbye to the home they loved, bravely struggling to find or build a new existence while staying in the community we still love. And some found the strength to leave it all behind, packing up what was left of their lives in Minot and bravely striking out in search of a new life in a new community, leaving behind the life they had built in Minot.

Now, 24 months later, as I look back on this experience that continues to unfold before us today, I am struck by how incredibly resilient we all are. While a part of me is saddened that our pretty town will never be the same, I marvel at what the flood waters left behind. While the river may have taken our homes and our possessions it gave us so much more. It made us realize how important the people in our lives are. It made us realize that things can be replaced people cannot. And am in awe of the powerful instinct of survival that came out in all of us….and the human desire to help each other get through this incredible challenge.

Over and over again, I saw people helping people. So many who had lost their own homes didn’t hesitate to help someone else who had lost theirs. Those who didn’t lose their homes, but saw their community in crisis opened their own homes to others, and worked alongside those in need, helping them through this challenge any way they could. This “tragedy” brought out some beautiful qualities and an incredible strength in all of us that many of us never knew we possessed.

What should have torn a community apart has brought us together. What should have destroyed us has made us stronger. Petty differences were washed away. Caring and compassion were left behind. While I hope to someday forget the losses we have suffered, I hope to never lose the precious gifts we have gained. Let us never forget the love we all felt for one another as a community who lost so much, but somehow still found the strength to come together and support each other through such a difficult time. It was a powerful thing to witness and be a part of. It is that human compassion for one another that I hope we never lose and never forget.