Jewish Journal


March 31, 2009

Red River’s embattled neighbors find hope in faith


Fighting floods with faith. From the frontlines in Moorhead, Minn.:

Trinity Lutheran Pastor Steve Wold was ministering in Grand Forks, N.D., during the 1997 flood, when hundreds of homes were inundated and a fire ripped through downtown buildings. Wold returned to a church where water lapped onto pews and ornate wood carvings broke apart.

At a wedding soon after, a flower girl got locked in a portable toilet and stained her white dress with muck. For a wedding party initially reluctant to use the damaged church, he said, finding the girl put things in perspective.

“Suddenly, the sanctuary was filled with the joy of Jesus,” Wold told Trinity congregants, who held hands and swallowed hard.

Walker’s Rivershore Drive ranch house has a walk-out basement and a swath of green that deer and wild turkeys frequent. A 38-foot-tall earthen dike had protected it—until the Red River swelled to historic levels. Even with thousands of sandbags, she said, “the leaks were too much for the pumps we had.”

She fled her home last week, with water gurgling below her living room windows and her piano propped up on paint cans. The home probably could not be salvaged, she said.

Walker, 57, a medical technologist, has found herself praying in snippets.

“But you feel people’s strength, and that’s God,” she said, interrupted by parishioners offering hugs and help.

A friend of mine e-mailed Sunday to say “contrary to all the major networks reporting, Fargo-Moorhead is not under water.  2 dikes have leaked and damaged an elementary school and some homes in south Moorhead, but overall things are holding so far…praise God for that!”

Today he told me that though his house is off the river, the forecast of coming snowstorms could mean weeks before they are fully out of danger.

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