Surviving the Prairie Tsunami
My community, Minot, ND, has been devastated by flood waters.
As I drove home from work last night I observed streets lined with waterlogged piles of rubble.
These sad remnants of people’s lives looked more like a war zone than a residential district. The images combined with the smell were overwhelming. So many have lost so much.
At the Minot Area Council of the Arts, we wondered what we should and could do. We wanted to lift spirits.
Our free summer concert series had been stopped when our park venues were under water. Even indoor venues are unavailable because they are being used as shelters or as space to store belongings. To find an available space we contacted the local Scandinavian Heritage Society that maintains a heritage park unaffected by flood waters and received permission to continue our summer concerts at their location instead.
Local media helped us get the word out. Not knowing if folks would show up, we decided to move ahead with the concerts, trekking sound equipment, popcorn machine, and wagons across town to the new location.
At each concert, public response to our decision has warmed my heart.
A gentleman in his eighties, shoulders slightly stooped, grabbed my hand and met my eyes as he said, “Thank you for what you do. We need your concerts now more than ever!”
A woman in a wheelchair called to me from where she was sitting. She said, “It was so sad that that we had to give up the (ND) State Fair. I’m so glad you made sure we didn’t have to give up the Sousa Concert, too.
A boy, about seven years old, has been at each concert since we resumed the schedule. Last night, he raced across the grass grinning from ear to ear! He wanted to show me the design our face painter had created on his cheek. His joy was so contagious. People laughed with joy, smiled at him, and also at each other.
A big guy wearing a bright green shirt handed me a small donation as he said, “I’m glad you guys didn’t give up like all the rest of the stuff. It seems like everything is canceled. This is so good! Thank you.”
Our concerts aren’t rebuilding people’s homes, fixing sinkholes in the pavement, or even tearing out molding sheetrock, but they are offering a few moments of joy to those who are accomplishing those essential tasks, restoring their strength and willingness to press on in what must be done.
I am so glad that we didn’t stop, didn’t give up!