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Snow hampering Dakota flooding relief

FARGO, N.D. (BP)–As local residents and volunteers from other states frantically work in freezing temperatures to prepare 1.9 million sandbags to thwart the rising Red River, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin are preparing to mobilize to the area.

“Kansas/Nebraska feeding and shower units are on standby, as are feeding and shower units from Iowa and a feeding unit from the Minnesota/Wisconsin convention,” said Karl Ragan, manager of the North American Mission Board’s disaster operations center in Alpharetta, Ga., which has been activated to support Midwest state convention disaster relief teams.

Ragan said the Southern Baptist DR teams are awaiting instructions from the Red Cross as to where to deploy.

“A big problem is the weather in the Midwest,” Ragan said. “The Kansas/Nebraska teams are ready to roll on Friday [March 27] but they are expecting 16-20 inches of snow tonight. It’s possible that the snow will prevent them from getting on the road. We’re not equipped to operate in such cold weather. Our kitchens and shower units would freeze. So we’re hoping the Red Cross will provide an indoor facility for our DR teams.”

Fred MacDonald, regional missionary in North Dakota in charge of disaster relief, said the Red River originally was expected to crest at 40.5 feet sometime Friday afternoon. The Red River divides the cities of Fargo/West Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., a three-city metro area of 180,000 people.

“Now it’s estimated to crest at 42 feet and the dike is only 41 feet, so we could suffer some serious flood damage and evacuation may have to be the next step,” MacDonald said. “And everything in the Fargo area is complicated by the forecast for six-eight inches of new snow. We’ve already had a few days of rain, so the roads are already difficult to get across.”

MacDonald said 130 roads in Clay County, Minn., where Moorhead is located, already have been closed.

Local Baptists like area missionary Morgan Medford have joined the thousands of volunteers filling bags with sand. Fargo’s Temple Baptist Church will be one of the staging sites for the feeding and shower units when they ultimately arrive in Fargo, MacDonald said. There are only three other SBC churches in Fargo.
Mickey Noah is a writer for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

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