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Seeing kindness in chaos

Minot family thankful for community that banded together

Submitted Photo Jason and Kassidy Skjervem and family stand earlier this year under a Bible verse painted in the basement of their home. Around 20 students from the college ministry, Cru, at the University of Washington had helped for a week in multiple houses in Minot over spring break 2012, including the Skjervems’ home. They painted the Bible verse on a support beam, which the Skjervems only recently covered when finishing their basement.

As devastating as the 2011 flood was for them and their community, Jason and Kassidy Skjervem of Minot look back at the past 10 years as a time of personal growth.

“We grew stronger and more compassionate as we experienced the challenging realities of enduring a disaster that took out our home and much of our community. We grew as a family as we leaned on one another and together pressed on, and we grew as a community as we rebuilt neighborhoods one home at a time together,” Kassidy Skjervem said. “Losing our house was difficult in many ways, but seeing the goodness and kindness of so many others around us as they supported and cared for us and so many others was so incredibly special.”

The Skjervems credited their endurance to support from immediate and extended family, friends, friends of friends, local and out-of-state churches, volunteer groups from within the community and out of town and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

They moved around from family’s and friends’ homes nine times before settling into a FEMA temporary housing unit on their property.

“It was absolutely perfect. It was a place to call home, to call our own, after several months of living out of suitcases and being so warmly welcomed into others’ homes,” Kassidy Skjervem said.

They lived 11 months in the FEMA unit while waiting to hear if their lot would be needed by the city as part of a future flood protection project. Once they learned they were not to be bought out, they began rebuilding.

The Skjervems hold many memories of those days – bleaching every piece of wood, pulling every rusty nail, protecting their boys’ little feet from broken glass and other hazards. They remember feeling so cared for by friends coming to scrub, build and feed and by the Salvation Army and Red Cross, whose trucks came through the neighborhoods daily to hand out meals, snacks and occasionally surprise toy gifts for the children.

“I’m so thankful for the memories of our community banding together to help one another,” Kassidy Skjervem said.

The Skjervems, who now have five children, had multiple reasons to rebuild and remain in the valley. One was having few options financially, but they also wanted to be close to Minot State University to be accessible to the students they work with in a campus ministry called Cru. Additionally, the neighborhood where they had lived for about two years before the flood felt like home.

“We do love the valley, the oak trees and our neighborhood,” Kassidy Skjervem said.

Recovery remains ongoing for the family, though.

“Prior to the flood, we were planning to pay off our home loan within a couple years. Instead we found ourselves needing to take additional loans in order to rebuild. Thankfully we qualified for the SBA loan, which allowed us to refinance our home at a much lower interest rate,” Kassidy Skjervem said.

The Skjervems only recently finished their basement and replaced their backyard fence.

“There are still doors and trim we never got to, even after nine years, but we are okay with that. We are thankful to have been able to rebuild, even if it’s still a work in progress 10 years later,” Kassidy Skervem said.

“We decided early on that we would crumble if we allowed our circumstances to rule us, so we needed to be proactive to make a daily choice to trust God and look to Him as we walked through uncertainties, experienced physical and emotional exhaustion at times as we rebuilt our home, welcomed a newborn into our family and raised three sweet boys for a short season in our FEMA trailer,” she added. “It wasn’t always easy and we definitely had moments of tears and anxiety, but through it all we experienced a true peace in the chaos and saw God take care of need after need through the kindness of so many people, churches and organizations.”

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