2012 flood recovery continues thanks to Cotton, MN community effort

By KBJR News 1

December 11, 2013 Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 7:14 PM CDT

Cotton, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Since the devastating floods of 2012 wreaked havoc throughout the Northland, Lutheran Social Service relief efforts have given aid to 900 homes in seven impacted counties.

60 percent of those homes have been in Carlton County alone, and one and a half year later, the work is still underway.

Those current efforts, however, wouldn't be possible without a Cotton, Minnesota based community outreach center opening its doors to the next round of volunteers.

In August of this year, a volunteer team of Mennonite Disaster Service members were busy rebuilding the Nelson–Morrisroe family home in Scanlon after it was destroyed in the 2012 floods, and re–destroyed by a fire weeks later.

According to Lutheran Social Service Reconstruction Manager Dean Minardi, it's the efforts of the MDS that make flood recovery a reality for those who still need a year and a half later.

"Their contribution is the labor," said Minardi as MDS members worked behind him. "They have skilled craftsman who take out time from their jobs to rebuild."

But bringing in MDS volunteer teams from out of state requires, among other services, a place to put them.

That's where Cotton, Minnesota–based family services outreach center Old School Lives plays an integral role.

Based in the old Cotton K–12 school building, the non–profit provides a place for the rural community to come together and utilize its extensive services.

"We really must have hit the nail on the head with what the needs were," said OSL Executive Director Ginger Kinsley inside the OSL youth center, "and people have really come around to support us."

Kinsley says the non–profit was contacted last summer by LSS looking for a place to house MDS volunteers.

"...carpenters, and construction workers that would come into the area and rebuild houses," listed Kinsley.

Since October, MDS volunteers have been in and out on short term projects, but come January, a 6–man team will be housed by OSL for four months, rotating teams of 20 to go wherever the need is greatest.

"They'll come in with a cook, and the cook will cook food for them. They bring their own food," said Kinsley. "They actually come with a lot of their own supplies."

Kinsley says it's the least they could do to meet their community service goals.

That is, when they're not busy being a thrift store, coffee shop, art studio, gift shop, fitness center, youth center, and gently–used outdoor gear shop, to name a few.

Mennonite Disaster Services volunteers hope to have four homes ready for the owners to move into by May first.: one in Pine County, and three in Carlton County.

If you'd like to learn more about Old School Lives, or how you can contribute to the MDS volunteer efforts:

Old School Lives

Billy Wagness

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