Kent Conrad, U.S. Senator
After days and weeks of prognostications, uncertainty and worry about threatening water levels in Canadian storage basins, the sirens that would forever change the way we see Minot sounded at 12:57 p.m. on June 22, 2011.
The sirens warned of breached levees. They indicated water was coming. A lot of water. And they signified, for too many of us, a loss of physical property, a devastating financial hit, a washing away of cherished memories, and a community that would be forever changed.
The water came, and, as we all know, it stayed and it soaked and it stank.
National news outlets converged on the city. The Secretary of Homeland Security arrived to see the damage firsthand and offer the administration's support.
Sen. John Hoeven and I spoke repeatedly and at length about the need for assistance from locations as varied as impromptu family shelters and the floor of the U.S. Senate.
To date, we have helped secure more than $650 million in federal resources to aid the recovery.
Strangers, in many cases those without any connection to Minot whatsoever, arrived in droves to help.
They arrived from the four corners of the state. They arrived from bordering states, Canada and beyond. They arrived without any financial incentive, or even the guarantee of a warm place to lay their head. Still they arrived.
And they arrived to find a city a people - not in shambles, not broken, but strong and determined to recover and rebuild.
The people of Minot and elsewhere along the Souris River have been through a tremendous tragedy. But in holding true to our common ideals and collective pride, we have come through it together and provided the state and nation with a shining example of that most important of words: community.
My memory of Minot, as I leave the Senate at the end of this year, will be of the thousands of good-hearted citizens rolling up their sleeves to begin the rebuilding of a city. It will be of neighbor helping neighbor and stranger helping stranger.
It will be of the devastation and reclamation of Grand Forks in 1997 and the knowledge that, like Grand Forks, a rebirth of an even brighter and more magical Minot is on the horizon.