Hello friends, I’m fresh off a week long excursion to Minot to see my parents & co.! It was certainly a different experience, with the flood’s presence still very fresh and prominent throughout the city. It is a disaster to say the least, and I believe that before visiting I had underestimated the damage.
On the night of my arrival my dad made mention to me that I should get involved in the cleanup, to feel the force in which the flood affected homes. Being that my own family wasn’t directly affected by the water, I turned to my parents to direct me to people that were.
I visited the home of an 80-something year old man who is a member of my parents’ church and father to several of their high school classmates. His family came to town to help, most of them daughters from Iowa, and together began ripping apart his severely damaged home situated a block from the river. Meanwhile he lived in a small trailer in his driveway, outside his window a torn home and reminder of a loss of normality. We piled his curb with insulation and foil, dumping load upon load atop the strips of warped hardwood floors already discarded. Everything was trash — the walls, the ceilings, the floors, even the toilet. His windows were shattered and his home was an empty cave, much like the house to his left, and the same as the tumbledown houses across the street.
The next day my mom and I returned with dinner for the weary workers, and quickly converted the garage from a living room to a dining room.
Several days later, my mom asked if I’d be interested in helping out at a fellow teacher’s house, Patrice. She said they’d be working on the basement and it’d be quick “only an hour.” No part of a flood cleanup takes an hour, I’ve learned. I started by sweeping her mud-caked front steps and thought about how long it’d be before she could have guests walk up them again without sensing the disaster. I stood at her front door and looked into her house; it was a skeleton with nothing but wooden beams and bare floors. I mentally mapped out where each room might have been, and what I thought might have been on the walls or what floor coverings where.
We moved to the basement and were overtaken by the smell of old river water and dirt that coated every surface. Without electricity and in dim light, we sprayed and scraped the floors clean until they appeared mud-free.
Many people lost many things. They no longer have their bedroom to sleep in, their kitchen to cook in, or their backyard to mow or garden. They have sheds that drifted to neighbor’s yards, muddy lawns and windowless windows.
There is nothing more humbling than seeing the livelihood of a person’s home taken from them, and watching them tear out their hard work, gut their hearth, and throw everything to the curb knowing they’ll have to wake up and relive the same day over and over with hopes of getting their life back.
Please continue to keep these people in your hearts and minds, for they are no doubt in struggle.
Holiday decorations on the curb for disposal.
Curbs everywhere lined like this.
Traces of the flood
A moldy ceiling in a friend’s home.
The living room of the home of one of my good friend’s parents.
Mom climbing over what’s left of a dike.
Mom standing in the doorway of her friend Patrice’s home.
This is my grandparents’ former home.
The bridge, now quiet and waterless.
• • •
Of course there is plenty of beauty in Minot as well. I had more than enough time to relax and completely enjoy myself. I can’t remember the last time I paid attention to a sunset and actually appreciated it, or spent so much time dissecting the things around me. Minot did that for me.
Dad’s garage will always be a great memory of mine. So many night’s I’ve pulled into the driveway to this scene: The garage door wide open, light spilling out, and Dad (not pictured here) sitting in an old recliner, staring about or tinkering with something, munching on peanuts. It’s his time and his time only.
View of Minot from my parents’ backyard
From the window, driving home from a walk with my mom.
Heidi came to visit for a few days, too. Olive loves when more girls are around to throw her a bone or crawl into bed with.
My parents’ house.
Minot by day + night
I took Olive for many walks, equally enjoyed by the both of us.
More scenes from Dad’s garage
Mom and I took a quick jaunt to Velva, North Dakota for their city-wide garage sale. We found several treasures and didn’t spend over $7 between the two of us! This house is in a field between Minot and Velva.
A building in Velva, North Dakota.
Scenes from a hail storm one evening. I was driving at the time and had to pull my car over and wait for the weather to pass.
Another evening, another sunset.
Take care and be well —