Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Easing the burden in a flood-weary community

The water may have receded in Minot, North Dakota and the headlines may have disappeared from the local newspaper, but Kathy Nelson hasn’t forgotten how the flood on June 22 tore her family apart.

Tucker, Kathy and Sadie during a
visit at the temporary shelter
She remembers every morning, when she wakes up on her grandson’s bedroom floor instead of in her own home, now inundated by sewage and essentially “gone.” She remembers for eight hours every day, when she works hard to earn enough money for a new home she can afford. And she remembers every evening when she visits the temporary animal shelter to visit her “babies,” Tucker and Sadie.

“These guys are my babies, they are part of my family,” Kathy told us. “To know they are taken care of and they have a safe place and they are going to be fed ... is huge to me. It just takes a lot of stress and worry off me.”

Tucker and Kathy play ball
A team of RedRover Responders met Tucker and Sadie this week – along with more than 300 other dogs and cats uprooted by the flood – when they went to Minot to help the Souris Valley Animal Shelter (SVAS) operate the temporary shelter.

SVAS staff have been working non-stop since the flood to care for animals of families with nowhere to go. The RedRover Responders were called in to help relieve the burden and share their expertise in emergency sheltering.

When the town of 35,000 in north-central North Dakota first flooded, local residents came in droves to walk dogs and help run the shelter. But as the floodwaters receded, the animal crisis receded from people’s memories and the volunteer forced dwindled.

Sadie and Kathy kiss hello
RedRover, as well as other national organizations with emergency response teams, are providing a second wave of support so SVAS can keep the shelter open for another month to allow people more time to find a new place to live.

Kathy and other residents who visit their pets tell us that finding affordable, pet-friendly housing is next to impossible in Minot. Apartment buildings do not allow pets, and a booming oil industry and influx of workers has caused rents to skyrocket.

Thanks to the SVAS staff, the RedRover Responders, and all the other groups who have sent people to help, pet owners like Kathy can sleep just a tad easier knowing their pets are safe.


  1. Marcia (RedRover Volunteer in Connecticut)8/4/11, 5:46 AM

    Just back from Red Rover's Minot deployment. Kathy is a pretty amazing woman. She had a very hard life and has been working hard since moving to Minot to go to college, and now graduate school, and to make a new, fulfilling future for herself and her dogs. Then the flood hit and made her home uninhabitable. While she waits for FEMA to come through with a trailer, Kathy comes and visits Tucker and Sadie every afternoon. She loves them as much as they love her, and her plan is to involve them in pet therapy as part of family counseling to victims of abuse, so she can combine the education she is getting with her past experiences and help other people make their lives better too. Good luck, Kathy...you're a gem and I wish you the very best!!!

  2. I would like to thank the Red Rover team for all their support and hard work with the animals while you were here!! God Bless each and everyone of you!! Tami


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