I realize that today is Thursday, and is supposed to be Flash Fiction day, but… I have to tell you a few truths, instead.
I’ve said before that I have the best friends on the planet.
I know this is even more true now, than ever – for many reasons.
My very dear friend, Sparrow, is dealing with her own flooding issues right now, due to her house being close to the flooded area of town. And yet, between worrying about not only losing her possessions, trying to move everything to higher ground, and still keep her boys safe, she has repeatedly told me that if I need anything, I am to call her. I’ve said the same to her, of course, and I’ve offered her space in my house if she and the boys do have to relocate. After all, my house is on the top of the hill, not sitting only feet from the flood zone like her house. Crazy lady, she’s worrying about me? Yeah, she’s just that good a friend.
Another wonderful friend is living in another city, south of here – Bismarck, where the muddy Missouri River has decided to rampage as well. Even with her flooding concerns, she too has offered to come to Minot to help, in whatever way she can. I told her to stay home and stay dry. Their river hasn’t crested yet, and it keeps creeping ever closer to her home. I wish there were something I could do for her. Other than offering my shoulder to cry on, and a couch to sleep on if she needs it, there’s little I can do to help at this point. But the offer is there, regardless.
Sparrow, Mark & Me
My friend, Mark, over at The Idiot Speaketh, has decided to ride a marathon on his stationary bike, asking for people to pledge so much per mile to the minotredcross.org. The last time he rode a marathon? He rode a little over 160 miles in one day on his stationary bike. And no matter whether he rides 5 miles, or 150 miles… he’s a hero in my book. He’s a relatively new member to my “chosen family”, in that I met him about a year ago through the blogging world. But, he quickly became a dear friend, and I’m honored to call him my BigBloggingBro.
Mark has asked that all donations be sent directly to the Minot Red Cross. He will not see a penny, and doesn’t want to. He has not asked for anything at all in return for his time. All he asks is that if you have something to give, to help, that you do it.
Another dear friend, another “chosen family” member, is my friend, Max.
I’ve known Max for more than half my life, approximately 23 years, and he’s always been someone that I knew I could count on, even if he spent most of those years hopping all over the globe. He’s been to almost every country on the planet, working for geological survey companies, as well as just being “Captain Max”. I’ve lived vicariously through him for years, following his escapades on facebook, as well as the occasional jog that he makes through town every couple of years, checking in with family and friends. He’s just one of those guys that… when he shows up, you know you’re going to have fun, and – it’ll be as though he never left in the first place.
Today? He’s running a new business out of another city not too far from here, and he started out with his partners, hauling water to the oil rigs in the area. But, as soon as he heard about the catastrophe in Minot and the surrounding areas, he decided he had to do more.
For days now, he’s been giving away free, clean, treated water donated by another city to those in need in my city. He came up with the idea because he had a large water tank, and Minot needed clean, drinkable water. He approached the city of Stanley, North Dakota, with the idea that he could get some treated water from there, and haul it to us. When they found out that he was giving it away, they told him that he could come back and get more whenever it was needed by our city. So far, he’s brought 1,600 gallons to Minot, and has only been able to give out about 600 gallons.
Only 600 gallons. When I talked to him last night, he was upset that he couldn’t give it away faster. He was hoping for a more centralized location, so that more people could get the water they need. All people have to do is bring containers to hold the water, and they can take away whatever they can carry.
One story he told me… was one he repeated at least twice, it affected him so strongly.
A lady came up to his rig, with her little girl, and as he was helping her fill her water jugs, she broke down, crying. She wasn’t sure if the city’s water was safe enough to shower in, due to the contamination that leaked into the city’s system a few days ago. Her little girl hadn’t been able to take a bath for days. Max… looked at the little girl, and asked her if she was “stinky”. Shaking her head quickly, the little girl tried to deny it, but her mom disagreed. In the end, the mom brought out a large garbage can, Max filled it for her, and she gave her little girl a bath… right there, in the garbage can, in the parking lot where Max had parked for the afternoon.
He has been posting his locations on the local news’ facebook page throughout the day, with help from friends. I’m also going to be passing his card along to everyone I know, in the hopes that he can empty the tank he brought with him, and be able to go back for more.
Max has not asked for anything in return. He does have a tiny cardboard box sitting at the end of his trailer, just in case anyone wants to chip in anything for his gas to drive back and forth to Stanley for more water. It’s a little over 50 miles away, and hauling a trailer with a 1600-gallon tank full of water… that’s a lot of gas consumed.
He’s also spent a couple of nights sleeping in his truck, which has now been remedied through friends offering him a place to sleep here in town.
And, finally, today brought one of the first signs of our city’s recovery from this catastrophic event.
The main thoroughfare through town has been opened up, for a limited time each day, to alleviate the traffic jams on the bypass around town. It will open for a couple of hours in the morning, and another couple in the evening, to allow people to get from the north end of town (where I live) to the south end of town (where most of the businesses are). This is a HUGE step forward for us.
This first picture is of the secondary dike, from the ground level. I was able to take this while driving, slowly, down Broadway. It was humbling.
And, this is not just a wall of dirt. This is all that holds 13-15 feet of water away from a good portion of our city. This wall of clay has protected a huge portion of our city, even though many homes were lost. This is our Great Wall, holding out the horrors of a river running wild.
And, with the long weekend coming up… this sight almost made me cry.
This flag, just one of many posted up on the Broadway Bridge that spans the Mouse River running right through town, was flapping and fluttering as I drove across the bridge.
It unfurled perfectly, just as I took the picture.
I am proud to live in Minot, in this city that won’t give up.
I am proud to be from North Dakota, where people that have been gone for years, or just moved here yesterday, or have lived here all their lives, band together in times of trouble to help one another. And when some from out of state ask “Why did you do that?” We simply answer… “That’s what we do. We’re from North Dakota, we help.”
And, on this Independence Day weekend, I am proud to be an American. This is my home, my city, my state, my country. And that means something to me that’s hard to put into words.
So here. Take another look. A picture’s worth a million words. Inflation, you know.
One resident's idea of "getting his point across"