The federal government awarded a $730,894 grant to the North Dakota Department of Human Services to provide confidential crisis counseling and emotional support to flood-impacted residents of Burleigh, Morton, McHenry, Renville and Ward counties this summer.
"This is an extremely devastating situation for people that will have immediate and potential long term ramifications for their lives," said JoAnne Hoesel, director of the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse for the Department of Human Services. "In order for people to be able to handle the stress and the emotions that go with that, it's important for them to be able to talk about it with someone, it's important to reach out and allow people to assist."
The grant funds Project Renew, a group of professionals and paraprofessionals trained and supervised in doing crisis outreach work. The department of human services has contracted with Lutheran Disaster Response for training the 49 people who will be a part of Project Renew.
Submitted Graphic - - People can find outreach counselors in their neighborhoods by looking for this Project Renew logo, on vehicles, T-shirts and coats.
The group will be traveling around the Minot community, seeking out people and offering support.
"These people will be in the neighborhoods, going to the individuals affected, so the people don't have to go to them," Hoesel said. "We want to make it easy for people to make contact so they don't have to deal with more than what they're already dealing with."
Project Renew staff will lend a listening ear to people affected by the flood, and help them make connections with services and resources already existing in the community.
"It's really important for people to be able to tell their story and to talk about what's happening," Hoesel said. "There will be a great deal of that, and making those connections."
Hoesel explained that while the regional human service center is already providing mental health services, the grant brings in extra helping hands.
"With the number of people that have been impacted, our department doesn't have the staff to do that (outreach work)," Hoesel said. "These grants are triggered when local resources and our department staff are maxed out."
The grant, which is being funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, has been awarded to counties that received a federal Individual Assistance Declaration. The funds will pay for services through Aug. 23.
"We have a culture in North Dakota that very much supports people being independent and self-reliant," Hoesel said. "In situations like this, we need to recognize that we should allow others to assist and help in whatever way makes sense. Talking about what they are going through and discovering their options can help lessen the emotional toll, so people are more able to make it through a very difficult time."