Winter coming; DR 'urgency' in N. Dakota

Baptist Press
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Posted: Aug 19, 2011 5:22 PM
Winter coming; DR 'urgency' in N. Dakota
MINOT, N.D. (BP) -- Pastor Ben Pierce, himself a victim of the historic 150-year flood in Minot, N.D., pleads with Southern Baptists to not forget about the needs of hundreds of flood victims in the town of 41,000.

"This is going to be a long-term project and ministry," said Pierce, pastor of Cross Roads Baptist Church. "We've cleaned up about a 100 homes out of the list of 400 requests. We've only scratched the surface on mud-out, not to mention any long-term rebuild effort," Pierce said.

When sirens blasted on June 22, Pierce, his wife and four children had to evacuate the rental home they shared at ground zero of the flooding of the Souris River, which snakes through much of Minot.

"We had less than 24 hours to get everything out of our house and we worked around the clock to do it," said Pierce, who has led Cross Roads the past two years. "The church people and others helped, and we put our belongings in three or four different locations, including the church." The Cross Roads building, located safely above the river, was not affected.

But five or six Cross Roads church families suffered extensive damage in the flood. Pierce said their homes had water as high as the rafters, and some of their homes have been condemned, circled with yellow police tape and placed off-limits. In other words, their houses are gone, and few flood victims had flood insurance.

"The Lord blessed my family with another rental home," Pierce said, "and if not for that, we'd be homeless."

Cross Roads Baptist Church also has been the "home away from home" for dozens of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crews from 22 states who have come to Minot in the wake of the floods. The only other Southern Baptist church in Minot -- North Hill, pastored by Dan Andrus -- is the site of the SBDR incident command post and feeding and laundry operations. North Hill also has sheltered volunteers from around the country.

But considerable mud-out work remains to be done before temperatures in north-central North Dakota begin to fall as autumn approaches.

"Winter is fast approaching," Pierce said. "August is really our last warm month and it starts to get cooler in September when Minot often gets its first frost. Snow can come in October. In January, it stays between 20-30 degrees below zero, with wind chill down to 70 below. There's an urgency to get as much done as we can in the next 30 days."

Pierce also said the availability of rental property in Minot is nonexistent, and that the prices of homes on the local market have jumped 18 percent since the flood. Between the displaced flood victims and oilfield workers, hotel and motel rooms within a 75-mile radius of Minot are hard to find.

Several waves of SBDR volunteers have come and gone in Minot. Currently, volunteers from Canada, Georgia, Minnesota and New Mexico are staffing the incident command post trailer parked at North Hill Baptist. They are coordinating mud-out, feeding, chaplaincy, shower and laundry teams from numerous other conventions -- North and South Dakota, Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Minnesota/Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas/Nebraska, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Southern Baptists of Texas, Utah/Idaho, and Virginia Baptist Mission Board.

Other state conventions that have worked in Minot include disaster relief teams from Arizona, Montana, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado and Texas Baptist Men.

Since the Souris River flooded on June 22, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams have chalked up 3,500 volunteer days; prepared nearly 80,000 meals for flood victims, DR volunteers and responders; completed 102 mud-out jobs for flooded-out homeowners; provided 4,160 showers and laundry loads; recorded more than 3,100 Gospel presentations, chaplaincy and ministry contacts; and led 37 people to Christ, according to the latest SBDR report.

Mickey Noah writes for the North American Mission Board. Southern Baptists and others who want to donate to NAMB's disaster relief fund can go to www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations and click the "donate" button. Other ways to donate are to call 1-866-407-NAMB (6262) or mail checks to NAMB, P.O. Box 116543, Atlanta, GA 30368-6543. Donations also can be sent via texting "NAMBDR" to the number "40579." A one-time donation of $10 will be added to the caller's mobile phone bill or deducted from any prepaid balance.

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