USA (MNN) — It's been over three weeks since an evacuation order forced thousands of people out of their homes as flood waters quickly rose to dangerous levels in Minot, North Dakota.
In mid-July, families are finally beginning to return to their homes to find them still swimming in rank water. Sometimes they are even unsalvageable.
The total cost of the disaster is expected to reach $1 billion as water continues to cause damage.
Mark Lewis with the Evangelical Free Church of America TouchGlobal Crisis Response team says, "The river has been up, and it's still flooding. There are 11,000 people that are evacuated–it's about a quarter of the city of Minot."
According to the Associated Press, 4,100 homes have been damaged, including 805 that were under more than 10 feet of water and 2,400 that were under at least 6 feet.
"People are just experiencing this continued disruption. Flood waters are still up and are expected to be in homes until even the latter part of July or into August," says Lewis.
Some of the homes that make up these frightening numbers belong to congregants of Trinity Church in Minot. Both pastors of the EFCA-affiliated church, along with about a quarter of the church's congregation, have lost homes and possessions as a result of the disaster.
TouchGlobal plans to work in conjunction with Trinity over the next several months and years to provide cleanup and reconstruction for flood victims. Since such severe flooding was never anticipated for the area, a significantly high percentage of the population was uninsured against flooding.
Lewis suspects the lack of coverage will mean TouchGlobal will have the opportunity to provide for even more people than they might normally.
By the week of July 31, TouchGlobal hopes to start registering teams of volunteers to serve in Minot to help with the cleanup process. Cleanup is expected to take around three months, at which point reconstruction should begin. Thousands will need assistance.
As Trinity Church deals with their own losses, the congregation has also taken on the challenge of providing hope for their community. Many members have been able to talk with flood victims, reassuring them in Christ's peace.
"In that process of listening and caring and investing in people, the church is finding a great opportunity to share about hope," explains Lewis, who agrees that the tragedy has created an opportunity for believers to share Christ's love.
More people than just the congregants of Trinity Church and staff members of the EFCA are needed to shine Christ and provide physical assistance. If you, a small group, or a group from your church would be interested in helping with cleanup and relationship-building for a week, month, or even a year, contact TouchGlobal Crisis Response. Pray for resources and workers to continue to pour in to help build beauty out of devastation.