Repairing flood homes

Three years after the devastating 2011 Souris River flood, volunteers haven’t forgotten about Minot.

A faith-based group is spearheading efforts this summer to restore about 40 houses for homeowners who remain in need of flood recovery.

Project coordinator Bob Lower, a past board member of Hope Village board and the Souris Valley Long-term Recovery Committee, said churches knew the job wasn’t over when Hope Village closed its volunteer center last fall.

“When we closed out Hope Village, we realized it was closed before some of the more difficult problems had been taken care of,” he said. “I told the people that I was going to stay on and that we would try to finish the homes.”

A project is moving forward with funding, equipment or logistical help from the United Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian and Catholic churches. Hope Village also is a partner in donating money remaining when the village closed. Lynx Construction of Minot is providing construction oversight.

Homeowners still in need of help are typically those who have faced the greatest difficulties in rebuilding due to age or disability, Lower said. Some are in the flood protection plan footprint and haven’t been offered buyouts; some are not eligible for certain types of assistance. They all have been identified as qualifying for help by the Resources Agencies Flood Team.

A major contributor in the volunteer effort is NOMADS, which stands for Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service. The organization of retirees under the umbrella of the United Methodist Committee on Relief will be bringing workers to Minot throughout the summer. Lower said five mobile homes have been set up to accommodate teams of up to 10 people as they come and go.

Some NOMADS volunteers arrive with their own recreational vehicles.

Scott Anderson of California parked his RV with an intent to stay in Minot until mid-August. He helped with flood recovery in Minot for three weeks last year.

A retired pharmacist, Anderson travels full-time with NOMADS.

“It’s fun,” he said of seeing the country while helping people in need.

Sue Albright, from Minnesota, joined NOMADS in 2011 after hearing about the disasters around the country that year.

“I knew I wanted to do mission work,” she said. “NOMADS was something I could just join and get busy. They put me to work right away.”

She serves part-time, usually in the winter, although she made an exception to come to Minot for a week this summer. Minot is close to home for her, and she believes in helping neighbors. But she also was aware of the need, having helped in Minot last year.

“When I got here last year, I could just tell this was a place we needed to be. There’s lots of folks who need help,” she said. “It’s fulfilling. You get more than you give on one of these projects.”

Lower said the United Methodist Church will be providing other disaster response teams, and Minot Air Force Base has been signing up weekend volunteer teams. Completing 40 homes by fall will be a challenge so additional volunteer teams are welcome, even if just for a weekend. Team leaders can initiate scheduling by sending an email to blower@dakotasumc.org.