Red River receding; flood areas brace for snowstorm

By March 31, 2009

USA (MNN) — U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a
federal emergency in response to flooding in the United States along the Red River in North Dakota
and Minnesota. 

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee Disaster
Response Services staff asked local Christian Reformed church members in North
Dakota and Minnesota  to "use prayer
chains, word of mouth, or whatever means you have at your disposal to make potential
volunteers within your communities aware of this urgent need."

The churches sent hundreds of volunteers to help
sandbag. Now, residents are braced for
an early spring snowstorm that could dump over a foot of snow, even as record
floodwaters recede. 

Officials said the winds from the new storm will cause waves
in the floodwaters that will put more pressure on the sandbag dikes along the
Red River, but the river levels were expected to continue their gradual

Art Opperwall, CRWRC-DRS groups manager, said traffic, bad
weather, and other congestion concerns are causing crisis management personnel
in Fargo to request that only local volunteers respond at this point.

The ministry staff is collaborating with local authorities
in Fargo and other relief organizations on a near-daily basis this week. DRS regional manager Jay DeBoer says, "There
are minimal folks in shelters at this point. Residents in this
area are known to stay with relatives rather than shelter, although some
neighborhoods, nursing homes and hospitals have been partially evacuated."

CRWRC's Bill Adams says their DRS team is on alert. "They actually would come in and help
with the cleanup. In the case of flood, you have to wait for the immediate
rescue to occur; you have to wait for the water to go down. They were pretty
much ready to go, but we've got them on hold, right now."    

Even while the teams
are asking for additional funding help, they're looking for ways to share
Christ. "Anytime our people go into the
community, it's to work, but it's to be the hands of Christ. That's really what
it's all about. You go in, and you lend a hand, and you're invariably offered
the opportunity to pray and to encourage. The ministry opportunities abound
whenever you have a disaster in a community."

Flood response will be expensive. CRWRC needs help in North Dakota and potential
responses in Minnesota and Southern Manitoba, where the water is expected to
crest in the next ten days, according to CRWRC international relief director
Jacob Kramer. You can designate “Spring Storms 2009” when you donate to CRWRC.  Click here if you can

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