Floodwaters are receding very slowly in Minot, North Dakota, allowing some residents to return to their neighborhoods, while others remain under evacuation orders. Nearly 300 people are still seeking refuge in American Red Cross shelters, while others are turning to the Red Cross for help with the stress of the disaster and materials to help them clean their homes.
More than 11,000 residents were forced to evacuate at the height of the slow-moving flood. Officials report more than 4,000 homes have been damaged, including nearly 2,400 homes that received extensive damage after being flooded with as much as ten feet of water.
To date, the Red Cross has managed five shelters in the Minot area, providing more than 5,800 overnight stays. Red Cross workers have manned six feeding sites, serving more than 170,000 meals and snacks. The Red Cross has deployed 22 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) to help with mobile feeding and distribution of supplies, and provided more than 2,000 items like brooms, mops, and sponges and comfort items like toothbrushes, soap, deodorant and other basic necessities throughout affected communities
Stress and anxiety are running high in the community. To address this, the Red Cross and Medcenter One gathered people together to offer coping strategies to deal with the taxing situation. Red Cross mental health workers were also on hand to help if needed.
Dr. Mark Doerner, a Medcenter One psychologist and Red Cross volunteer, reminded those present that just as the receding of the flood waters is going to take a few weeks, the stress and anxiety are going to be long term as well.
The communities affected by the flood have shown incredible strength, but the Red Cross is seeing signs of stress among flood evacuees. As people return home, exhaustion sets in, and the shock of the damage can cause an entire new set of emotions, such as grief, desperation and depression.
Doerner advised that people need to be prepared to pay attention to their emotional reactions and to the reactions of friends and neighbors. Pulling together and asking for assistance are valuable coping tools. Another important coping strategy is taking care of your physical and emotional needs. He recommended the three “R’s” as good ways to cope with disaster stress—rest, routine and relationships.
The Red Cross has opened two service delivery sites to help provide Minot residents with information on the options available to them as they return to their homes and begin the long process of cleaning and rebuilding.
“We believe that taking time to help families get their lives started again is one of the most important things the Red Cross can do here,” said John Duck, Red Cross client casework chief in Minot. “There is a wide range of resources open to residents to assist them in nearly every aspect of the recovery process, and the Red Cross can help point them in the right direction at these service delivery sites.”
Red Cross workers are also distributing cleaning materials throughout Minot. The water system in the area is contaminated, and all tap water has to be boiled before consumption. The Red Cross is delivering bottled water to the different neighborhoods.
The Red Cross has been working with many partners to help ensure the people of Minot get the help they need. The North Dakota and Minnesota National Guard have been a huge help to the success of the Red Cross relief efforts in North Dakota.
National Guard troops helped get Red Cross emergency response vehicles through checkpoints, helped unload initial emergency freight on behalf of the Red Cross and worked hand-in-hand with the Red Cross moving displaced homeowners into the Minot State University Dome.
The National Guard is also providing security at the University shelter. "Security is paramount for the residents of this shelter,” said Ron Frank, director of public affairs for the Red Cross operation in Minot. “The National Guard manning the checkpoint really helps us maintain security. We need to honor people’s space. They've lost everything and by the Guard monitoring this environment, they can at least feel safe and secure."The Red Cross depends on financial donations to provide relief services during disasters such as this historical flooding in North Dakota. Those who want to help people can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; people can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.