5:00 P.M. EDT June 27, 2011
An aerial photo of Minot, N.D. shows floodwaters from the Souris
River engulfing the complex of Faith United Methodist Church.
Photo by Jeff Thomas, U.S. Air Force pilot.
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With muddy floodwater filling the church’s basement and soaking its sanctuary, members of Faith United Methodist Church in Minot, N.D., met at Vincent United Methodist Church on Sunday.
A newsletter from the Dakotas Annual (regional) Conference said the pastors at the two United Methodist churches in Minot are “providing worship and ministry” together at Vincent.
The two congregations met in the Vincent building but conducted separate services since the members were in different emotional stages, said the Rev. Lee Gale, disaster response coordinator for the Dakotas Conference. The Rev. Debra Ball-Kilbourne is the minister at Faith and her husband, the Rev. Gary Ball-Kilbourne, is the minister at Vincent.
“She seems to be holding her own,” Gale said of Debra Ball-Kilbourne. “The church will be surrounded by water for quite some time.”
Gale said last week before the floodwaters hit that the congregation at Faith, which includes about 70 people, will not be able to rebuild because of financial concerns. He said congregants met at the church, acknowledging they would lose their building.
“They had a prayer on the front step before the water got too awfully deep,” Gale said. “It’s kind of a sad day.”
At least 11,000 families had evacuated Minot, a city of 40,000, by Friday and now are awaiting permission to re-enter and assess damage. Gale said the water will “remain at a high level for another five or six days.”
The conference newsletter said water from the flood might remain until August. The primary cause of the flooding was a river, known as the Souris in Canada and the Mouse in the United States. The river flows in a U-shape from Canada through Minot.
Gale said weekend rain made the flooding situation worse.
“We have had quite a bit of rain,” he said, adding that Minot had a tornado warning Saturday evening. “It just kind of compounds things a little bit.”
The Minot Daily News said the Souris River, referred to as “the dirty rotten scoundrel,” has “pushed citizens of this city far beyond any other watery test in history.”
The newspaper said the water peaked at 1,561.72 feet. That is four feet higher than the record from 1881, and more than six feet above the 1969 flood. The paper’s website reported the 1969 flood as “the biggest single event to ever occur in the city.” It caused “thousands upon thousands of dollars” in damage and left residents unable to fight the rising waters, the newspaper reported.
The sanctuary of Faith United Methodist Church (above) is soaked and the basement filled with muddy floodwater.
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The weather forecast from KMOT-TV in Minot showed clear skies until Thursday and Friday, when the chance of thunderstorms is 20-30 percent.
Gale said he spoke with the United Methodist Committee on Relief Monday and asked them to notify churches to send teams within the next four to six weeks. Gale also mentioned that FEMA approved an Individual Assistance Amendment for two counties, one of which includes Minot. He said this means the government will assist individuals with cleanup, relocations or buyout.
Gale said there isn’t much that anyone can do at this point, adding that other areas of the state are still concerned about more rain or snowmelt coming from Montana. “Just keep us in prayer,” he said.
“I want you to know you’re not alone,” said Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey in a video message to flood victims. “I have received messages from United Methodists, from bishops across this beloved denomination, telling me that they’re holding you in prayer and also telling me that, once the water subsides, they’re offering their help, teams and resources in whatever way we need it.”
*Snell is a United Methodist Communications intern and a senior at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Maggie Hillery, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.