— Twenty state Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams are now deployed in Minot,
N.D., or en route — eager to assist the
thousands of flood victims in this north central North Dakota
city of 41,000.
Soon after the sirens blared on June 22 — the signal for residents in nine city
zones to evacuate their homes due to the quickly rising Souris
River, which snakes through a
valley running through Minot —
floodwaters engulfed the land along the river’s edge. Dozens of homes along
tree-lined streets, businesses and entire shopping centers were inundated.
Despite a serious lack of housing, 135 Southern Baptist volunteers are on the
“Things are going well,” said Bruce Poss, disaster relief coordinator for the
North American Mission Board (NAMB) in Alpharetta, Ga., who came to Minot with
a few other NAMB staffers, plus Jack Shelby, state disaster relief director in
Illinois, who is serving as incident commander inside NAMB’s 30-foot incident
command trailer parked outside North Hill Church.
Most of the current 135 volunteers are mud-out workers, while 24 volunteers
from the Arkansas and
Kansas/Nebraska conventions are handling the major feeding site at North
in Minot. Also, volunteers have:
- prepared more than 48,000 meals.
- completed some 2,800 laundry loads and showers for Baptist volunteers and
- finished 29 mud-out jobs.
- made almost 1,400 chaplaincy visits, ministry contacts and Gospel
presentations, with 16 decisions for Christ recorded.
“We still have a need for more teams,” Poss said. “We finally got additional
housing set up, which was a problem,” he said, referring to the fact that hotel
and motel rooms in Minot are booked solid by flood victims and the area’s
“Our goal is to be done by the end of September, and we’ll keep on going until
all of the mud-out jobs are finished.”
Poss said the need to be finished by September is because the harsh North
Dakota winters come early, sometimes with snow as early as October.
pastor, Dan Andrus, was himself impacted by the floods, which left two feet of
water in his basement — ruining major appliances and forcing him and his family
to move out temporarily. The church itself, located north of downtown Minot,
escaped the flood.
“We’re a small church, but we have a big facility here. That’s why we offered
our campus for the command center and feeding site,” said Andrus, who’s served
North Hill for the last 15 months. He said three church families were affected
by the flood and had stored their salvaged furniture at the church.
One of Andrus’ core leaders at North Hill Baptist, Doug Hollingsworth — and his
family — managed to save some of their belongings but not all before the sirens
blew on June 22, forcing them to evacuate.
“We don’t know when we’ll be able to move back to our house,” Hollingsworth
said. “We can only watch the continuous news coverage and hope that things will
“I take my responsibility from God to take care of my family seriously, so to
lose my house would be devastating,” said Hollingsworth, a 24-year military
veteran. “Sure, tears were shed but I realize God is in control. God has a
plan. I felt frustrated, sad, tired, sick and weak. I felt like giving up. But
when I pray to God and leave it in His hands, I let it go and realize it will
be what it will be. Any damage … to our house can be repaired. But our ‘home’
will stay intact.”
Harold Johnson of Arkadelphia, Ark.,
the “blue hat” leader for the disaster relief feeding operation at North Hill,
said his team has prepared three meals a day since last Friday, when the
Arkadelphia contingent arrived. They will be serving hot meals for another week
and then be relieved by a feeding team from another state.
But the men and women in the “trenches” are the mud-out teams — those working
in 90-degree heat and humidity to handle the 389 requests from local citizens
for assistance, many of whom have already begun mud-out and tear-out on their
Billy Gilmore of Amarillo
is the “blue hat” for a 16-member team — including five women — working on
gutted homes near downtown Minot.
It took Gilmore and his team two days to drive from Texas
Gilmore, a seven-year veteran of disaster relief, has participated in response
to disasters all over the United States
and even in Thailand,
Greece and Nicaragua.
“I do it for the love the Lord. The Lord says ‘Go’ and I go,” he said.
The week’s highlight for Gilmore’s team was leading a 26-year-old man — whose
home on Second Avenue was
destroyed by the flood — to Christ. While the crew worked on the man house,
Gilmore’s team — along with a disaster relief chaplain — also labored over the
man, talking with and praying for him.
“It took all 16 of us to bring (him) to Christ, not just one person,” said
Gilmore. “We don’t deserve any credit. Give the Lord the credit. We were all
fired up by it. It inspired us and gave us all a glow.”
According to FEMA, the June flooding resulted in $100
million in damages in Minot and eight other North Dakota
counties. Receiving 8,800 requests for assistance, FEMA has already paid out
$77 million for temporary housing and home repairs, according to local news
The 135 volunteers on the ground represent the Texas Baptist Men (BGCT), and
other state conventions from Arkansas,
Kansas/Nebraska, Texas (SBTC), Ohio,
Indiana, the Dakotas,
Mexico, North Carolina
and Kentucky. Teams are being housed
in Minot at Cross
Roads Baptist Church,
Our Redeemer Church, and Minot High
Other SBDR teams en route to Minot
are from state conventions in Arizona,
Minnesota/Wisconsin, Montana, New
Utah/Idaho and Virginia, and
additional Texas teams from BGCT
To donate to NAMB’s disaster relief fund visit www.namb.net/disaster-relief-donations
and hit 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 can also 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.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Noah writes for the North American Mission