The numbers are unimportant; the reason they are in Minot is important.
Many volunteers have come to the Minot area to help others get their lives back to some semblance of order. Among the volunteers is a group with a strong desire to help the Mormon Helping Hands. These volunteers, dressed in their trademark yellow T-shirts, can be found giving needed service in Minot, throughout the United States and in countries throughout the world. The program, which was established in 1998, gives people with strong desire to serve others an organized opportunity to do so.
Supply master Mike Kelly, of Minot, said as calls from the community come in, work orders are written up and teams of six to eight people are sent to sites to help.
Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services personnel stopped to offer some Gatorade, water and sandwiches to Mormon Helping Hands volunteers Phil Tippetts and Zach Hanson in northeast Minot July 16. Tippetts, of Wyoming, and Hanson, of North Carolina, are serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Williston.
The home of Mark Hodges is flooded but he showed up to help others. "We are here to help everybody out," Hodges said. "When the team gets to the site everybody takes an area and everybody works together to get the work done one area at a time. We tear down walls, anything and everything down to the studs."
There are no specific jobs for each person. "We just work together to get the job done," Hodges added.
"Anybody can come in or call for assistance, no matter what faith they are," Kelly said. "We are here to serve the community. If people have a need they should stop by and we'll give them what we can. Our guys that are out there are carrying food boxes, they're carrying cleaning kits and they are carrying hygiene kits."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many volunteers available to remove drywall, insulation, flooring, carpeting, furniture, appliances, debris, etc.
This effort is part of the church's ongoing "Helping Hands" service to our friends and neighbors. The volunteers have the tools and equipment necessary to complete the work.
The contact number is 858-9777.
Shop vacs, fans, generators and sump pumps can be checked out for use at no cost but people must come to the church at 2025-9th St. NW to get them so we know who has responsibility for that piece of equipment, Kelly said. Rubber gloves, utility knives and face masks, cleaning kits and containers of food also are available for people who need them.
Neils Ludlow, director of the local flood-relief command center, admits Minot is a very big project. It compares in size to the tornado in Joplin, Mo., in May. That tornado was the deadliest tornado to hit the United States since 1947. Officials reported on July 8 that 158 people died from the tornado, with another person killed by a lightning strike during cleanup operations. It doesn't compare with Katrina by any means though, he said.
"This (the flood) is a problem. If you lose your house, it's a problem for that person. It's a disaster. It doesn't matter to them whether there's 100,000 others who have been affected, it is still each person's disaster," Ludlow said.
Ludlow and his wife, Marti, are volunteers who have been asked by church leaders to come to Minot to help. They had been called to help in Tuscaloosa, Ala., after tornadoes hit there in April. "We had pretty much finished our work there and were on our way home when we got called and were asked to go to Joplin," he said. They worked there for several weeks and then were heading back to their home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. That's when they got the call to come to Minot and help with the flood.
"That's why we are here," he said. "We've had a lot of experience in working with disasters and setting up command centers and getting them organized."
Ludlow stressed the importance of getting the people help now. He has witnessed the devastation; he has seen many of the homes. He said that the longer they have to wait for help, the worse it gets for those people.
"I know what they are going through," he said. "If we can do anything to help in anyway to ease that pain, that suffering, that's what we're here for."
Someone once told him, "It's amazing what you can get done if you don't worry about who gets the credit."
The volunteers won't take money and they won't take donations. The Mormon Helping Hands program is sponsored through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Humanitarian Fund.
People who would like to volunteer and help the Morman Helping Hands may email Ludlow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are one of the very first responders. We are here organized and ready to go," Ludlow said, "and we'll be here until we've helped as many people as we can. We are happy to be here and happy to do whatever we can to help relieve the pain and suffering these people feel."