Remnants of flood
It’s been 2 1/2 years since the devastating Souris River flood, but many people are still struggling, according to a Minot State University communications class.
Students in Audra Myerchin’s crisis communications class conducted an online survey of people who had experienced flooding back in 2011 and asked them how they are doing in the aftermath. About 55 people completed the anonymous survey.
Financial concerns and housing remain at the top of the list for many of the respondents, but a substantial number of flood survivors are also still dealing with mental health issues in the aftermath of the flood, according to the survey. MSU student Kyler Elm said he was surprised that so many were still dealing with mental health concerns two years later. Eighty-one percent of those who responded said they still need financial help following the flood; 39 percent said they still need mental health assistance and 24 percent said they need help with housing.
Students said some off those who responded had been able to fix up and return to their flooded homes or had bought or rented another home, but some of the respondents were still living with family members two years later.
There is also still a lot of anger and frustration in the aftermath of the flood, said MSU student Beth Ryan. Ryan said the survey showed that respondents thought they have received a lot of support from individuals and churches in the community, but don’t think the city and state have done enough to help people who experienced flooding. In particular, Ryan said some respondents
expressed concern about taxes, which they think are too high already. Some said there has been more help for businesses to recover from the flood than there has been for individuals or for rural areas to rebuild.
Students put together a “word cloud” repeating the words that were echoed most often by survey respondents. “Anger” came up often, as well as other negative emotions, such as depression, frustration, anxiety, betrayal. Students got the most in-depth responses from long answers that survey respondents wrote out. Some seemed eager to pour out their frustrations and explain exactly why they are still angry.
“You wonder if there’s an outlet for them right now,” said student Josh Sandy.
Sandy said he wished
students had included a follow-up question asking respondents what they need to make things better.
After the class gave a presentation on Tuesday, they met with Minot City Council member George Withus, whose home was also flooded in 2011. Withus said he understands the frustrations of people in the community and also believes that the state Legislature did not provide enough funding for flood relief during the last session. There are strict guidelines for distributing funding that means middle income families often do not qualify for assistance, said Withus, which explains some of the anger expressed in the survey results. Withus said families in his ward are particularly frustrated because flood buyout monies still haven’t come through. He receives a call every day from a constituent asking about buyout money and he calls the city himself every week to check on it.
Withus said he remains “confused and amazed” that the Legislature didn’t do more to help with flood relief.
“The city’s hands are basically tied,” said Withus. “The federal government basically tied them and that’s where the state should have stepped in.”
Members of the crisis communications class at Minot State include Kyler Elm, Sam Johnson, Beth Ryan, Josh Sandy, Josh Zimmer, Mara Hintz and Ward Lamon.