One Year Ago Today

May 31, 2011 was a day that will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life as the day that our “normal” lives forever changed.  The morning started with the first day of summer orchestra for Luke and what would have normally taken me about 5 minutes to drive him there took me 30 minutes because all the bridges and underpasses were closed in Minot.

This was a picture I took of our house from the other side of the river on the morning prior to evacuation.

On my drive home from dropping Luke off, I got word that our worries were becoming a reality and after months of watching the Mouse River rise and dikes continuing to grow to hold the water, the rain from the Memorial Day weekend had been too much and predictions had been made that the river would over top its banks.  I immediately sprung into action and called friends and family to help us.   I remember walking into the house and just roaming from room to room in disbelief and utter confusion.  Where was I supposed to start to try to pack up a house full of stuff in a matter of hours?  I didn’t even have boxes or containers to put the stuff in.  I called Ryan for the second time and without hesitation, I told him to get me a moving truck NOW.  I didn’t want to wait one more minute to get packing, I just wanted to get out.

The river was rising and it didn’t appear that it was going to be holding back this time.  Within a matter of minutes, friends and family were at our door and all I felt like I could do was direct traffic and tell them what I wanted out of the house first.  I am sure I looked like a chicken with my head cut off just wandering around in disbelief that this was actually happening.  It is one year later and I still cannot believe that it is a part of my reality.

See the lovely Budget truck in the background? It was the very last truck that they had for rent. Good thing Ryan listened when I told him to “Get me a truck NOW!”

It amazes me just how many people dropped everything to help us that day.  We had friends, family, distance relatives, family friends, people we had not seen in years, and so many more that so willing packed and moved us out in record time.    While we were packing up, the first of many special news conferences came on to give the report that indeed, things were not looking good and the river was rising faster than expected.  We had little time from the looks of things to get out and we used every moment to our advantage to load up and head for higher ground.

Within about 7 hours, we had packed up everything we could possibly think to get and the house was empty.  We left many things in the garage, but because of the traffic, the road closures, and the mass chaos that was ensuing, we decided it was best to get out of the area.  We were told at that point that our neighborhood would be one of the neighborhoods that would be sacrificed to try to save the greater part of the valley and that by the end of that night that we needed to be out so that a large dike could be built to protect the west side of town.

Our belongings were scattered across town.  We had friends that were vacating a storage garage in NE Minot that very day as they were moving into a new house and we were able to sublease the unit from them.  My mom’s garage in NW Minot was full to the brim with beds, toys, light fixtures, and clothes including all the built in drawers from the house.  Other friends in SE Minot willingly let us use their garage and that became packed with outdoor equipment and furniture, the washer and dryer, and lots of boxes.  Ryan’s parents took loads out to their house 25 miles outside of town as well.  This included more furniture, appliances, and so much more.  It takes a lot of space to hold 3200 square feet worth of goods from the house and the contents of most of a 2 car garage.  Good thing I have gotten rid of half of our stuff so our next move will be easier!

This was the very last picture I took of our street before we drove away on May 31, 2011. 

What we didn’t realize that fateful day was that this was really just the beginning of things to come and that this first evacuation would end in the valley being spared from the rising waters.  Sadly, the worst was yet to come less than a month later.   We had rejoiced after this evacuation that we had been lucky and that we had learned some hard lessons…or so we thought.  When the water did over top the banks on June 22, it flooded over house with over 8 feet of river and sewage water on the main floor.  I didn’t realize on May 31 of last year that our future would no longer include living in our Forest House.

Looking back on one year ago today, I realize that our lives has changed drastically.  From some aspects, I feel that I have grown and changed through all of this into a person who understands the meaning of true friendship.  You realize that true friends are there for you in your moment of need and will even carry out your underwear drawer without saying a word!  I also take a lot less for granted and I now understand that things can change in the blink of an eye and we have to be ready for just about anything.  Not a day goes by that I don’t wish for the ability to be back in my peaceful Forest House and back to my life that now seems so much more simple and carefree, but I also realize that things happen and life is what you make of it.  I could spend the rest of my life wishing for the past to come back and wake up one day to the realization that it is not going to happen or I can use the experiences of the last year as a launching pad into something amazing for my life.  I prefer the second option and am striving to better myself each and every day.

The most fitting quote I have ever read and my new motto!

Between the flood in June and the news of Ryan’s company merging with another company at the end of the year, our life was flipped upside down in 2011.  Out of the adversities, God has turned lemons into lemonade time and time again.  Ryan is in an amazing new job that he loves and we are on the path of being bought out by the city for future flood protection.  I finally can say that I am finding peace in the chaos that has been our lives for an entire year. Thank God for blessings in the midst of the storm!

8 thoughts on “One Year Ago Today

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and insights. I’m glad you are taking the high road out of what others could interpret as disappear. I know the universe will continue to bless you in your new life.

  2. Well said Hope. Many people are re-living their stories of what has changed their lives forever. It still seems surreal that this happened to our beautiful valley until you drive through it and see wreck and ruin that will be there for a very long time yet. It gives one hope as you see people rebuilding and coming back but a great sorrow still remains. Thankfully we have God’s Grace and strength through it all.

  3. WOW! What a crazy experience. But you have the most wonderful outlook about it! Thank you for sharing this story with us all. Your message about not focusing on the past is a great one. And your new motto is surely one to live by :)

  4. Oh, Hope! My emotions are raw today as I have been reliving this experience throughout the day. Your last photo did me in and the tears flowed. Seeing my house amongst the trees in your last view of your drive down our street made me so sad. The reality is that our neighboorhood will NEVER be like that again. In so many ways, that day seems like it was yesterday, and then it also seems like it has been an eternity in trying to cope with the aftermath and making decisions on how to move forward. I LOVED your last quote! It is very fitting for us. I miss my home and neighbors! -Nita Debertin

    • I completely agree, NIta. I feel like it was yesterday and an eternity ago all at the same time as well. Today has been hard just thinking about all that we had and all that was taken away from us in a matter of moments. I feel like this post could have been written by so many in the valley as the story of their May 31, 2011. The neighborhood will never be what it was, but let’s hope that with time, it can be the best kept secret in Minot again. A little piece of heaven in the middle of town. Can’t wait to come and see the progress on your house in the near future!!

  5. So well written, Hope. Sorry for what you went through but you are a positive, wonderful person and sounds like you kept your heart and soul intact. God bless.

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