Local Red Cross volunteer helped in Minot during evacuationsOne local American Red Cross volunteer is back after a five-day stint volunteering for flood evacuees in Minot. Darlene Porter minded the kitchen June 1-6 in 12-hours shifts while 58 Minot area residents sought shelter at the Minot State University Dome. The dome was the second of two shelters. About 200 sought shelter at the city’s other location.
One local American Red Cross volunteer is back after a five-day stint volunteering for flood evacuees in Minot.
Darlene Porter minded the kitchen June 1-6 in 12-hours shifts while 58 Minot area residents sought shelter at the Minot State University Dome. The dome was the second of two shelters. About 200 sought shelter at the city’s other location.
Eleven hundred households were evacuated in Minot, said Buffalo Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, resulting in about 10,000 individuals needing a place to stay. Red Cross sheltered about 300 of them.
“These people, you just feel bad for them,” Porter said.
Residents in Minot were allowed into their homes only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. each day to look after their properties. All Minot evacuees were allowed to return home on June 6.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, raised levees throughout the city to contain water swelling from the Souris River. The Des Lacs, which joins the Souris River at Burlington, also challenged its all-time top flow, according to reports from the Minot Daily News.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, said 400 guardsmen were on duty in Minot and that another 200 had been called up from nearby states, according to the Minot Daily News.
Many of those soldiers stayed at the shelter too, Porter said, and were under her care. In fact, three tiers of the dome were filled with various people: 160 Guard soldiers on the third floor, American Red Cross volunteers on the second and general public on the first.
“There’s probably long hours but the people you share them with just fill them up,” Porter said.
Porter recalled five young boys whose family took shelter at the dome. Given the circumstances the boys were well-behaved. Dome staff even opened up racquetball courts so the young people could get some exercise and burn some energy. Even after 12-hour shifts five days in a row, Porter said she’d have stayed in Minot to help.
“I didn’t want to leave my kids. They were so sweet,” Porter said.
In fact, she’s signed up to help again. If the levees should breach, Porter is on call to return to the city to help residents there. Officials predict releases of up to 150,000 cubic feet per second throughout July.
“I’m packed and ready to go again,” Porter said.
Red Cross volunteers from 27 states offered assistance in Minot.
The American Red Cross brought operations, mass care, feeding and mental health volunteers from across the country to assist North Dakotans impacted by the flood. These volunteers were trained, said Beth Dewald, executive director of the Buffalo Valley American Red Cross.
“We’re providing support throughout the state yet,” Dewald said.
Porter began her volunteer work with the Buffalo Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross about five years ago. She’s left town to assist with Red Cross efforts once before, when Aberdeen, S.D., experienced flooding about four years ago.
Red Cross volunteers are trained in registration, disaster health services, emotional health and record keeping. They respond to floods but also to disasters like tornados and fires.
“We could always use more volunteers,” Dewald said.
In fact, areas of Jamestown and downstream are still dealing with high water. Combined releases totaled about 1,650 cfs as of Wednesday.
“It’s a clean flood right now but we also have to be on our guard,” Dewald said.
And in the case of a disaster elsewhere, Porter changed her volunteer status to national. Should an emergency occur in another state, Porter said she’d go there if necessary. The job, she says, is rewarding.
“You get really attached to a lot of these people, even in the short time that we were there,” she said.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com
Break out box
The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services set up a hotline for North Dakota citizens who’s private residences have been damaged because of this spring’s flooding. The purpose of the hotline is to learn the scale of flooded homes in North Dakota.
* Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.