Minot, ND – The town is built around the Souris River. Little shops and houses line the streets. Some lay at the river’s edge, while others still lay up the shallow hill. A few days into my tour, I got the warning that large sections of the city of Minot had been evacuated due to flooding, and that I might consider contacting someone up there to see if the two shows I had scheduled were still happening. The Pangea House was not flooded, and the show was quickly retooled into a benefit show. The second show, at the Blue Rider, was sadly cancelled. But they were up and running shortly after that, thankfully.
The flood waters had creeped into a large section of the downtown area, halting a number of local businesses, and flooding the water treatment plant, which resulted in some possible contamination of the water supply. I have never had to fear tap water before. I have become so accustomed to the running water being clean. To suddenly have to worry about the water getting in my mouth or eyes is quite a shock. On close examination of the flood water itself, it was not the beautiful river water I have come to expect from a river. It was brown, and a little foamy, and it smelled worse than it looked. I noticed city silt on the city streets. Deposits of dirt and rock and small objects on the dry street where flood water had been. I had missed the worst of the flood. The waters were receding. Now I took notice of the flood lines along the edges of the buildings. A much larger portion of downtown had been flooded than I had thought. Some of these businesses could be permanently shut down as a result of this disaster. Frustrating to say the least. This was on the southside of the river.
The northside of the river suffered the larger portion of the flooding, or at least that’s what it looked like on the map. We (I was traveling with a group of friends) arrived at a ballpark, which now looked like a lake. Behind us were park benches that had been deposited on the street. Across the ballpark-lake we could see hundreds of roofs peaking over the surface of the water. I knew some of the people in those houses. Hopefully they got their most important stuff out. I know they did not have that much warning. They told me that four thousand houses were underwater. 11,000 people were refugees. All but a couple hundred of those people were able to find a place to stay among friends and family.
We saw someone’s porch that had ended up under a bridge, washed up by the fast-moving river.
For Independence Day, I traveled with some other people to a house far out in the countryside. A family of absolutely insane people shot giant fireworks directly at each other, and I spent a majority of the night hiding behind a couch to escape the blasts. Between explosions, I noticed the stars, brighter than I had ever seen them, exploding in their own way, light years distant. I became lost staring into the center of our galaxy, wondering what my place was in this seemingly infinite universe. Then, a horrifying explosion, and I was back behind the couch. The night continued like that until we left at three in the morning.
I left Minot with an incredible respect and fear of nature, and some other kind of feeling for those who arrive in the wake of disaster and make money off of those who were affected by it. Indiscriminate nature, and bloodthirsty predators. It never changes.