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Published December 24, 2011, 11:30 PM

Minot family marks Christmas in FEMA trailer

Home flooded before they could move in
MINOT, N.D. – Evan, Payton and Riley Waind likely won’t remember the details of their family’s tumultuous 2011, but it’s a year their parents will never forget.

By: Chris Bieri, Forum Communications Co., INFORUM

MINOT, N.D. – Evan, Payton and Riley Waind likely won’t remember the details of their family’s tumultuous 2011, but it’s a year their parents will never forget.

It started with the triplets’ mother, Brooke, spending three weeks in a Portland, Ore., hospital in what ended up being a monthlong pre-term labor before giving birth.

The family overcame health problems and made a 1,250-mile move back to their hometown of Minot just as a historic flood swamped the family home they had planned to move into.

Now, the Wainds are celebrating the triplets’ first Christmas with their extended family in a FEMA trailer, complete with a miniature live tree that father Ben promised to 3-year-old Brody, the oldest of the family’s four sons.

“Above all else, we ­wouldn’t have been able to get through the past six months without our family,” 30-year-old Ben said. “We’ve really rallied around each other to help myself and my brother (whose house was also flooded) try to get back on our feet. We’re taking every occasion we can to get together and celebrate the small things. It was really the No. 1 reason for wanting to be back in North Dakota.”

Decision to move

With a family about to double in size, the Wainds decided a move to Minot, where friends and family could help them care for their growing family.

“Ben got laid off from his work,” said 30-year-old Brooke. “His work got bought out around Thanksgiving of 2010. I was already on bed rest, still working. We decided to come home. We were going to leave a month after the triplets were born, but Evan got really sick and was in the ICU and had a few surgeries. He almost died. That kept us in Oregon for a few months.”

Once the triplets were all healthy enough to move, Brooke resigned her job managing a cancer center, and the Wainds hired a moving company, packed up and left their still unsold house in Beaverton, Ore.

Once the Wainds sold their house, they planned to buy Brooke’s mother’s house in Minot.

Their trip home was just barely under way when they got the news of the rising waters.

“We just got in the car and cried and talked about it,” Brooke said. “We said we just have to do it. We had paid $10,000 to move our life. We didn’t have any other options. We didn’t know what the extent of it would be. We were praying it was the basement.”

Fighting the flood

When they arrived in Minot, the flood had covered not only that house’s basement, but most of the main floor as well.

They moved in with a family member, who put up a number of flood victims. At times, there were more than a dozen people living in the house.

“It was a lot of chaos,” Ben said. “We were trying to just get though each day. It got to be a lot with 13 of us in the house. It was just hard being in a basement the first few months we were there. Since then, things have settled down. I’ve been more involved in work, and we got into this trailer.”

Life improved once the floodwaters receded and the business of rebuilding began.

“It’s been really tough,” Brooke said. “It strained some relationships. It got to the point where we could be as positive as possible and look forward.”

Family Christmas

It may not have been the first Christmas the Wainds envisioned when the triplets were born on Jan. 22, but it will be one surrounded by both friends and family.

“We’re excited for this one,” Brooke said. “They’re getting mobile now and are getting into everything. We’re settled and had only been home for Christmas twice in six years when we lived in Oregon. We’re looking forward to waking up in our own space with stockings and still having the grandparents around.”

The only thing missing from the Christmas celebration is snow, something Brody experienced little of in his first three years living in Oregon.

“We have really looked forward to Christmas this year with all the boys and just being around family and having all of this activity,” Ben said. “The one downside for us: I told Brody we’d have a white Christmas and he could play in the snow as long as he wanted.

“This Christmas is going to be great, and I can’t wait to see Christmases to come.”

Future plans

With Ben working and Brooke actively seeking work, the Wainds future in Minot seems to be secure, but the family still hasn’t ruled out a return to Oregon.

The housing situation in Minot is uncertain, and the family home they are repairing, and still plan to move into, is on the edge of what would be a green zone in the latest flood plan.

“Ideally, within a short amount of time, we will be able to move back into our house,” Ben said. “By the looks of the plans, our place is on the fringe, but more on the good side than the bad side. We’re really just looking forward to that. Brooke is looking for work. The biggest question for us is care for the boys with us both having careers. There’s a shortage of day care and especially nannies. We are just trying to do what’s best for our family. If it works out, we’ll be here for a lot longer.”


Chris Bieri is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald

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