To avoid a column that devotes more words to segues between various flood-related topics than to the topics themselves, each separate item will be numbered.
Topic 1: Local media coverage. It has been very good, very thorough. Arguably the most informative, and giving us the most up-to-the-minute feel for the flood have been the Minot river level reports.
The numbers have been not only informative but also reassuring as they topped out and began ever so slowly to decline. Of course, the July 8 downpour brought them up briefly, but they again settled downward. And for a moment there, it almost seemed that if everyone really watched and concentrated, we could will the numbers down faster.
Topic 2: Topography. Everyone is now more aware of differences in elevation. I would never have thought that St. John's church is higher than Little Flower church. St. John's is over seven blocks further south but over nine feet higher, at 1,570 feet. Little Flower was surrounded by water at the crest of 1,561.72. Only a hastily constructed levee avoided considerable water damage. The school did suffer such damage, as did Faith United Methodist church across University Avenue from the school.
Across Eighth Street from Little Flower, Model Hall was protected by the big Minot State University diking project. We still tend to think of it as Campus School, where our three daughters went for their grade school years.
Topic 3: North Hill. We up here are thankful for being high and dry, yet we have at times felt isolated and left out, especially when the bypass was the only way to where almost everything was, like food and hardware. Sometimes it took longer to get to South Hill than from South Hill to Bismarck.
Topic 4: FEMA. Where do Representative Rick Berg and Senator John Hoeven stand on the Republican-proposed budget cuts for FEMA? Did they take the Grover Norquist pledge never to raise taxes (or end temporary tax breaks) no matter what, not even to deal with huge natural disasters? Would they put the narrow ideological platform of an unelected official with an unethical background ahead of getting badly needed help for people in Minot and Bismarck?
Topic 5: Volunteer groups. One that particularly caught my attention was Lutheran Disaster Response, with work teams coming from Michigan, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado. They assisted Grand Forks with their 1997 flood problems. In that group were people from Wisconsin, including a high school friend's 90 year-old father, Christian Stefferud. His picture and name were in a Minot Daily News article. He lived up to his given name throughout his long life.
Topic 6: Cleanup. On July 7 I drove down to see how St. John's had fared. On the way down and back I drove through neighborhoods just starting their cleanup, with piles of stuff out at the curb and dirty floodwater lines on trees, houses and hedges, and with people mowing lawns and bringing more stuff out to the curb.
While at St. John's I said a prayer and lit a 7-day votive candle for all those who were and still are flooded. In an email to flooded friends in Bismarck who happen to be Lutherans, I said I thought the candle worked for Lutherans and for those of other faiths or of no faith, even for those who are liberal Catholics like me.
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)