Sipma: Reflecting on an uncomfortable time of uncertainty
As we continue to navigate through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and approach the anniversary of the 2011 flood, I can’t help but look back and draw parallels between two disasters that have greatly affected and impacted our community. There are similarities – and a sharp contrast.
To reflect for a moment; by June 30, 2011, temporary levees in Minot had been built, raised, and raised again to fend off the rising Souris River. The valley was in the second mandatory evacuation. The valley and the entire city were watching, waiting, and praying. There were weeks of calm and a hope that we had staved off disaster. Then, record rain fell in the basin north of Minot that would flood and devastate the community. Despite some claims that the volume of water could be managed, it could not be. There was no managing Mother Nature’s wrath; we could only get out of her way.
In some respects, for Minot, COVID-19 has emerged on a similar path. We have been preparing. We have been sacrificing. We have been patient. Now, we are again nearing June 30. What will come next in this new battle? The difference, I hope, is that this time, the power is in our hands to have some control over our destiny, and the effects of COVID-19 on our community.
Locally and statewide, we are in something of a lull with infection numbers. We cannot understate the substantial sacrifice of businesses and the people in the community who have suffered economic loss. We cannot understate the people who have suffered through this illness. We cannot forget the friends and family we have lost in Minot, in North Dakota, and across the nation to this disease. We can, however, do our best to make sure it wasn’t in vain.
As the state walks down the ND Smart Restart path, I hope and pray that we do not undo the sacrifices that have been made. Psychologically and economically, we need to overcome this disease. We need to reconnect with each other and regain what has been lost. Doing so, we also need to be vigilant and smart. Taking for granted that the worst is over could be a catastrophic mistake. Letting our guard down could very well realign the paths from 2011 to 2020.
What we don’t know is how many in the community are asymptomatic with COVID-19. Common sense tells us that the disease doesn’t affect those carriers. It’s those at high risk, with underlying health conditions, who come in contact with asymptomatic or symptomatic carriers that face the most serious threat. The death toll numbers in North Dakota show exactly that.
We combat this disease by practicing good hygiene, washing our hands, staying at home and away from people when we are sick, and wearing a facemask when we are in close proximity to people outside of our household. Patience and understanding cannot be understated. If someone chooses to wear a facemask, that is their choice to protect others. If a business chooses to adjust its business model to protect employees and patrons, it is a choice based on health and risk. It is also your choice not to wear a mask or not to alter your daily activities. There is no local law against people gathering in close proximity, although the state has outlined recommendations for social gatherings.
We hold our freedom dear to our heart, as we should. It is the very fiber of our society. But I also believe caring for our neighbor is the fabric that holds us together as a community. I’ve seen it before. I experienced it first-hand before, during and after the 2011 flood. If we care enough to be smart about how we move forward, we won’t have to endure the aftermath of what follows this current calm. We can move on to our next chapter. We can beat the pandemic through sacrifice, perseverance, and being North Dakota Smart and community minded. The next chapter is up to all of us to write.
Sincerely, City Hall.
You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.