Posted by: Robin Finegan, Regional Administrator FEMA Region VIII
Minot, ND, June 23, 2011 -- Liva Rovig loads sandbags on the back of a flatbed trailer at the Sertoma Sports Complex. Residents are sandbagging along the Souris River to try to prevent flooding.
Images of the flooding in the picturesque Souris River Valley are streaming all over the world. National and international media have descended upon the city of Minot and smaller communities like Burlington, Sawyer and Velva. However, seeing those images on a computer or television screen and seeing them in person are very different experiences.
I have had the opportunity to travel around Minot with local officials, the Governor and the North Dakota congressional delegation. I have seen homes of which only the rooftops are visible. Parks that should be full of children enjoying the summer sunshine sit submerged. And the truly surprising thing is that this flooding has only just begun – in Minot up to eight more feet of water is expected by the weekend.
The residents of this area have displayed amazing composure in the face of this disaster. Despite knowing the historic flooding was heading their way, folks have helped each other pack personal belongings and evacuate in an orderly fashion. Neighbors are helping neighbors, with the flood pulling tight-knit communities even closer. I’ve learned that Minot is known locally as the “Magic City”, and this flood has brought about a magical sense of unity in the city.
Local officials like Minot Mayor Curt Zimbleman and Burlington Mayor Jerome Gruenberg have been great examples of leadership as they lead their communities through perhaps the greatest challenge in their history. These leaders have been valued partners, along with Governor Dalrymple and the North Dakota congressional delegation, as FEMA coordinates federal response efforts.
Already, six air boats from the Fish and Wildlife Service are staged to support rescue and response efforts in Minot and Burlington. The Red Cross has established two shelters in Minot and is ready to open another in Burlington if needed. Cots and blankets have been brought in for use at the shelters. FEMA has provided resources to feed up to 2,500 people for three days and water to match, with the ability to bring in additional commodities as needed.
A community is more than its houses, infrastructure and buildings. The heart of a community is its people and in the communities of the Souris River Valley I’ve seen, that heart is still beating as strong as ever.
For more information about the flooding go to www.nd.gov/des/#souris.