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Published January 31, 2010, 12:02 AM

Funds help area recover from flood

WALCOTT, N.D. – For the members of Barrie Congregational Church, 2009 was a tough year.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

WALCOTT, N.D. – For the members of Barrie Congregational Church, 2009 was a tough year.

The tiny church, which has sat on an oxbow of the winding Sheyenne River for 104 years, was badly damaged by last spring’s record flooding.

More than 6 feet of river water filled the basement, and years of kitchen, bathroom and basement remodeling ended up in a Dumpster, said church clerk Nancy Bernstein.

A month ago, members sat down to decide whether to stay open or fold.

“We had just taken a vote to decide that Sunday, just before Christmas, whether we were going to keep going as a church,” Bernstein said.

“We just decided, ‘Yeah, we’re going to keep going,’ ” she said.

“The next day, Monday, we received our grant.”

The $10,000 from the Spirit of Fargo Flood Fund reaffirmed the congregation’s trust and faith in God, she said.

And just as likely, faith in their fellow man.

Four different funds collected – with matching dollars from Dakota Medical Foundation – $442,273 after last year’s record flooding, DMF and Impact Foundation records show.

So far, 604 gifts have been made to individuals, businesses and agencies affected directly or indirectly by flooding, said DMF President Pat Traynor.

“I feel very blessed to be part of this region,” Traynor said. “This community and this region came together in an extraordinary fashion.”

Nokomis Child Care Center in Fargo also received a $10,000 grant from the Spirit of Fargo Flood Fund.

Gary Wolsky, president of The Village Family Service Center, which operates Nokomis, said the grant has helped plug a big budget gap, caused in part, by cutbacks in donations during the flood.

“We’re going to be OK,” Wolsky said.

DMF and Impact Foundation records show:

  • The Impact Foundation Spirit of Fargo Flood Fund raised $118,927, including matching funds from DMF.

    So far, $80,500 has been disbursed, leaving more than $38,000 still available.

  • The Dakota Medical Foundation Red River Valley Flood Fund took in $246,696, which includes the $60,000 match from DMF.

    After distributions to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and FirstLink, there is $8,691 remaining in the fund.

  • The Moorhead Clay County Flood Impact Fund received $31,500 in donations and matching funds, which was given to families in need by the United Way of Cass-Clay.

  • The Valley City/Barnes County Flood Fund received $25,150 in donations, plus a $20,000 match from DMF.

    There were 26 grants to businesses and families.

    Barrie church’s Bernstein said the dryout process has been long.

    On a frigid winter’s evening, the basement was 36 degrees, with humidity at 60 percent.

    The $10,000 grant will be used to sanitize the basement, check and fix the foundation, and replace electrical wiring.

    This summer, the church will hold a homecoming celebration. The plan is to celebrate on the last Sunday in June with all who have attended the church over the years.

    The event wasn’t held last year because of the flood, Bernstein said.

    “That’s our goal again,” she said.

    And it’s possible because of a helping hand from others who’ve tossed sandbags and known loss.

    “Ten thousand dollars: That’s going to get us a long way,” Bernstein said. “That was just wonderful.”

    Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583