By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN A Delano man has made it his mission to help victims of flooding in Minot, ND, which is about 60 miles from where Ron Gust Jr. grew up.
Flooding of the Souris River this spring and summer has affected about 11,000 people and damaged about 4,500 homes in the community of about 30,000, Gust said, including the homes of his two sisters, who live in the community.
One of his sisters experienced water levels up to three feet on the main floor of her residence.
“We were talking about how to help her, and it got going that, although she needs help and we’re going to help her, there’s a lot of people that don’t have the support that she has,” Gust said. “We decided to try to make it a bigger operation.”
He has been working since late June to raise funds to drop ship loads of Sheetrock in Minot. Through the lumberyard in Watertown, Gust said he is able to do the drop ship directly. Each truck will cost about $5,000.
“We’re working now to try to get the first truckload together,” Gust said. He is seeking monetary donations to assist in getting to the $5,000 goal.
He said he’s been trying to do this fundraising effort cost-free, and said there’s no administrative costs or overhead.
“It’s a personal effort amongst a bunch of friends,” he said. “One hundred percent of it is going to buy building materials to ship out there.”
Gust said the first wave of people affected have been able to get back to their homes and are starting the “deconstruction” process.
He said there is still no water usage in some areas, and said he is planning on making the nine-hour trip to Minot to help at his sister’s residence later this month.
“There’s a lot of other people in this area that have connections to Minot,” Gust said.
An initial evacuation and river rise took place this spring, with a second, mandatory evacuation taking place June 20.
The first date his family got back to check on their property was July 8, Gust said, adding that the streets were still full of water. Several days later, his family was able to go in and start removing property, and then begin the deconstruction process. The river was 13 feet above flood stage.
“It’s kinda like the Crow River when it surges,” Gust said, explaining the Souris River comes out of Canada, makes a “horseshoe,” and then goes back into Canada.
“They had to release water out of Canada because of the danger of dams bursting,” Gust said. Rainfall last fall and this spring, plus a ground freeze in Canada, did not make for a good combination.
Because Gust lives along the parade route, he took advantage of his location during Delano’s Fourth of July Celebration.
He’s been part of an “impromptu” float for several years, so this year, in addition to the float, some of Gust’s friends collected funds and handed out cards to raise awareness for the flood relief.
His wife, Joan, made a number of posters, and collections cans have also been set up at Dave’s Town Club, Rieder’s Meat Market, Three Crows Cafe and Coffee House, and Harbor Wine and Spirits in Mound, where Gust works.
“Between the businesses and what we did at our house, we collected a touch over $1,000 over the Fourth for that,” Gust said.
His church, St. Peter Lutheran in Watertown, helped Gust mail information to 53 other area churches to include information in bulletins and any way they can help spread the word.
Another family at Gust’s church, Dale and Debbie Muhs, also have connections to Minot and hosted a pancake breakfast with Rick and Billy Burbank. About 90 people took part in the breakfast, and $875 was raised toward Gust’s goal to get the first truck rolling to Minot.
Additional proceeds have also been brought in through his church.
“We’re getting there,” Gust said. “It’s slower than what we wanted, but it’s coming along. We’re a little over halfway to the first semi of Sheetrock.”
Gust has lived in Delano for almost nine years. He and Joan have three children Larissa, who is in second grade; Raymond, who is in first grade; and Annerose, who is in preschool at Mt. Olive Lutheran School.
To donate toward Gust’s efforts, checks may be made payable to Minot Flood Relief Drive, and may be sent to, or dropped off at State Bank of Delano, 1300 Babcock Boulevard, PO Box 530, Delano, MN 55328.
Gust can be reached at (612) 916-1639 for more information.
“My dad is there helping now he said it’s one of the most horrible things you’ll see in your life, but in a way, it’s a really a good thing, too, because the people have all come together to help each other, and that’s another important thing about getting people in the first wave up and running because once they’re up and running, they’ll be able to help their neighbors and people who are worse off,” Gust said.
He added, if one wants to contribute to shelters helping Minot residents, contributions may be made to Mid-Dakota Red Cross, 2021 Fourth Ave. NW, Minot, ND, 58703. To volunteer or assist in other ways, call Minot’s flood hotline at (701) 858-9366.