Welcome to another edition of "8 Questions with....." an ongoing series of interviews with some of the most interesting people I have run across.
When I think of the term "time flying by",its hard for me to realize that I have known Michelle Myers for over 15 years. We met when I lived in San Jose and she lived in Reno,Nevada. We became good friends because of our love of family and good music. When a job offer suddenly came open for Michelle to move to San Jose,we finally met for the first time and a life long friendship was born.
What makes her so cool is that she is unafraid to try something new and exciting yet stay true to her morals and convictions. We could sit over coffee (or Coke) and talk about anything and everything. She was one of the voices encouraging to take the next step and move to Michigan. While I was getting ready for the move,she herself,made a big move and headed home to Minot,North Dakota. Its where her family is at and they were all so happy to have Michelle back home.
Especially one Brad Myers who after meeting the lovely lady,dined and wined her into surrendering her heart to him and becoming his wife,thus adding one more great chapter in Michelle's life.
Brad and Michelle have seen quite a lot in the past couple of years,to have one's home almost destroyed from a huge flood to the fight to restore that same house,they have really proved to be a excellent example of what a true married and loving couple are like and in my eyes,they really are heroes. Its why I asked for this interview so many of you can see what I have known for 15 years,Michelle is a real angel....and I can't wait to meet her husband either!
And now.....8 Questions with......Michelle Mindt Myers.
1. What is like to live in Minot, North Dakota?
Minot is a small town that had about 30,000 people before the big oil boom and the flood. You used to be able to leave your doors unlocked & keys hanging in the ignition. Now since the oil boom and then the flood happened it’s so much different. There are more than 60,000+ people living here. It’s not the safe small town I grew up in, but it is still home. You just have to be more aware of what is going on around you. We’ve had more murders, thefts, auto accidents, etc. It’s seems like the wild wild west. There has been such an increase of people from other places that did not grow up with our hometown values that it is sad most people now carry concealed weapons for protection.
2. How did you come to live there?
I was born and raised in Minot, ND. I’ve also lived in Reno, NV & San Jose, CA before moving back home to Minot.
3. You lived through the Mouse River flood, how were you affected by it?
We were evacuated the first time in May for 2 weeks. We were allowed to go home again for about 3 weeks before we were evacuated again on June 22nd 2011. The flood waters released from Canada brought down 30,000 CFS down on us. Our area was only built up to with stand 11,000 CFS. Our home had over 8 feet of water in it. We have a split level home and the only floor not flooded was the upper floor where the floor joists were 10 feet above ground level. Out of a house that has about 3200 Square Feet, 2500 SF of it was damaged. We lived at the farm in our camper for over a month then we were able to park it in our driveway. We spent 5 months total living in our camper until the weather got bad and we had to move into a FEMA trailer for 4 months. I was so happy that we finished our kitchen first, because once it was done we moved back home to plywood floors and walls with just insulation on them, but at least we were HOME.
4. How does one cope during such a crisis?
You take it one day at a time. Brad and I are very lucky that we had each other, our kids (Dakota & Smokey), our families, friends, co-workers and God to help us thru when we thought the light at the end of the tunnel was so far away. We would work so hard at tearing the house apart, but we knew that together we could overcome anything thrown our way. It’s help make a strong marriage even stronger. Plus there is nothing like kicking a wall down because you are pissed off that your home was ruined by something that could have & should have been prevented!
5. Did you receive any federal aid and was it enough to help you and your town recover?
We personally received the allotted amount that you could get from FEMA. I don’t know anyone who can rebuild a home with over 2500 square feet of damage for just a little over $30,000 dollars that we received from FEMA. The state, city & county have gotten what is called CDGB dollars to help rebuild Minot, the county & the other areas in the state that were affected. It is supposed to help people rebuild their homes too, but unfortunately most of us who own our own homes make too much money to qualify. So far they have started with the low income families, but they just opened it up to where is you are a family of 4 and make under $56,000.00 a year you can get money to rebuild your home. But if you do qualify and have completed the rebuilding of your home by having to take loans out from the State Bank of North Dakota and the SBA (Small Business Administration) so sorry you are out of luck. You can only get the money if you qualify and if you have a need of funding to get your house complete. So in other words if you waited until now to rebuild your home, you can get some of the CDGB money (if you qualify) and you don’t have to pay it back. Unlike like my family our neighbors, we have 2 – 30 year loans (plus our original mortgage) we have to pay back for busting our asses to get our home rebuilt so we could move back in. Sadly unfair but what can you do?
6. How did the people of Minot react compared to New Orleans?
Well the people of Minot opened their homes to family members & strangers who need a place to stay when they were forced to evacuate. We had over 11,000 people displaced from their homes and only 500 at the most ended up in a shelter. It’s how we were raised, in a disaster your help your fellow man, even if you hate them, you still help them. It’s the Christian thing to do! Once the flood waters receded and people were able to get into their homes to see the extent of the
damage. The cleanup began. The first time we walked into our home my husband (Brad) had mad the wise crack of “Well Honey you get your new kitchen now!” We actually laughed verses letting it get us down! That day we began the process of gutting out our home! Everyone in ND whose home got flooded - as soon as they could get to their home they started gutting and rebuilding it. Friends, family & strangers chipped in to help. In ND our philosophy is “We don’t have time to sit around and wait for help, we just roll up our sleeves & get to work…Winter is coming you know!”
7. This flood was mainly ignored by the mainstream media and even the President, do you feel the lack of coverage hurt your town in it recovery?
We got a week or two of coverage while the water was still flowing thru our homes. And sadly the destruction of my town and my home was man made by the mismanagement of the US Corp of Engineers, the US Govt, and the Canadian Govt. Those 3 groups control the DAM between the US & Canadian borders. I have nothing good to say about the man who claims to be president. He would not even come to ND to see the destruction for himself yet he can go visit all the other disasters after ours. Yes it hurt our recovery efforts, but you know what we are North Dakotans and we are stronger than anyone will every truly know. We will make our cities, counties & state great again! We have that determination!
8. How did your pets cope with being uprooted?
Our little kitty Smokey didn’t have it too bad, she went to Grandma’s house and thank god my mom loves cats. I would stop by every chance I could so that she knew momma didn’t forget about her. Towards the end of August we had to go get her & let her live in the camper with us, because she missed Daddy, Dakota and I so much she would just meow all the time.
Our Siberian Husky Dakota Blue was a real trooper. She must have thought she won the lottery because she finally got to ride in Momma’s pickup (2008 Ford F150 King Ranch). And boy did she get to ride in my Pickup. She went back and forth to work with me from the farm about 45 minutes from town (on a good day where there isn’t a flood to reroute traffic & cause backups). She was always with us & slept in the camper with us too.
We all moved into the FEMA trailer together and Dakota went with while we worked on the house. She had a subtle way of letting us know that it was time to move home. (She tore up a whole pack of TP in a matter of the 4 hours she was alone with Smokey) She saw the progress we were making and she just wanted to go home too! So the weekend after she let us know it was time to go home, we moved home!
9. How long did it take to recover your house?
We have been working on our house since we were able to get back in July of 2011. As of 1/11/13 we are still rebuilding our house. It’s going to be a 2 or 3 year project to get it back to how it was. We might get everything done by 12/31/14, God willing and no other disasters strike!
10. Can this disaster be avoided again in the future?
Yes both sides of the border need to put the citizen’s property ahead of them making money on Recreational Activities. Keeping the Damn’s full just so people can fish, water ski, jet-ski, etc. is still a recipe for disaster when you keep the water levels above normal all year round.
11. What was the best that you and your family gained by living though this?
It’s made us a stronger family. A lot of our family and friends are surprised when they find out that Brad and I have yet to disagree on how we want our home to look. Some are even surprised when they find out just how in tune we have become with each other’s likes & dislikes. We also decided that when we were able to get out of the FEMA trailer in March 2012 and live in our home on plywood floors, staring at walls with just insulation and some with sheetrock, that it was time to add to our family. We added another Siberian Husky and her name is Shadow Blue. We knew Dakota needed a friend/sister after everything this flood put her thru, plus we needed another ray of sunshine in our lives!