Calm in the storm: LSS Disaster Relief brings help to those who need it most


Did you know that Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota has a long history of disaster relief in the state? Starting with the deadly Fargo tornado in 1957, our agency has been there to distribute funds, food, clothing and whatever else is needed when communities have been devastated by disaster. Here, one of our clients shares how LSSND helped her when her basement was flooded in Ellendale, N.D., last summer.


Last summer, about 6 to 8 inches of rain fell in my community of Ellendale within 24 hours. The rain overwhelmed the city’s storm sewers and sanitary sewer system, flooding around 28 homes – some of which wound up with raw sewage and flood water in their basements.

I was no exception. Water poured in from my basement windows and the floor, so my basement had about 3 inches of standing water. The sump pump couldn’t keep up. The water short-circuited my deep freezer’s outlet and I lost the freezer and all the food in it.

I did my best to get the water out of my basement but it left mold on the walls and window sills and a musty smell. Every time it warmed up, the mold odor grew stronger and made our house smell horrible.

Within 24 hours of the flood, I called my insurance company to see if I was covered for the damage to my basement and deep freezer; sadly, it wasn’t because the basement was unfinished and I didn’t specifically have flood insurance.

I thought I just had to take a loss until a friend heard about a flood relief group and said I should look into it. I am so glad I did! I met with Cari Logan of Lutheran Social Services to talk about the damage and fill out papers to see if they could help. I also took pictures of the remaining damage.

Within a short period of time, Cari got ahold of me and said I was a good candidate for help. She gave me great advice on how to clean up the mold, along with resources and names of people who could. And she said they would be able to replace my deep freezer and the food in it! That was such a huge blessing as I have three kids and just my income to pay for groceries.

While they figured out how much they could reimburse me, I started looking into estimates on how much it would cost to spray-foam my basement, because no matter what I tried, the mold smell wouldn’t disappear. It made my whole house reek, my kids were complaining about it and I was embarrassed by the smell.

I started talking with the Cari and the flood-relief committee, and they said there was a secondary funding program that might be able to help me with my basement. So I got the estimate and turned it in. Around the same time, the flood committee contacted me with the amount they could give me to replace my freezer/food and to help cover other damage. It was close to the cost of the spray foam so my mom and I talked and she said to get it spray foamed.

Knowing that the check from the flood relief was coming, my mom fronted the money for the spray foam and also the costs of clearing out the basement and renting a storage unit.

When the check came, I had a completely new spray-foamed basement, the smell was gone, the water damage was gone and my house was back in order! I signed the check over to my mother, who then helped me out even more by buying me a deep freezer and some food (which was sweet of her).

I am so blessed to have had things line up and work out the way they did. I have a fully functional deep freezer, a non-moldy, odor-free basement and I have spray foam on my walls to prevent this from happening again. Let’s just say I’m thrilled! This money was life-changing for me.

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