Having returned from our trip to North Dakota and South Dakota, we had a few moments to write up this experience of ours.

Dubbed “the magical city,” Minot, ND, experienced record-breaking floods in June this year, as the Mouse (Souris) River swelled, breaking its 130-year-old record and displacing more than 11,000 people.

By the time we arrived in late July, much of the water had receded, but we were greeted by the horror of the aftermath of the attack of the “Big Mouse.” As we made our way toward the home of a Jewish professor at Minot State University, we had to resort to old-fashioned navigation, as our GPS navigator conflicted with what we saw. The navigator indicated that we should continue straight along the road, but we were confronted with a large mound of dirt. Whether it had been man-made as a levee to control water flow, or was a natural result of the flood, we weren’t sure, but we were sure that we couldn’t follow the GPS navigator’s instruction.

Weaving our way through the streets of Minot, we passed block after block of houses gutted completely to the shell, with endless piles of debris lining the streets. Arriving at our second dead end, we wondered how a lone abandoned car with one door hanging open landed in the middle of a large empty muddy lot. We continued to work our way through town, encountering more newly formed dead ends, and making numerous U-turns, finally arriving at the house of the professor. His house is in the middle of a block on a severe incline, and he is surely appreciating all those trips up the steep hill. Half a block from his house begins an area of many, many square miles absolutely devastated by the flood.

Glad to finally meet the professor safe and sound, we sat down at his kitchen table, 216 miles from the motel from which we had checked out earlier that day in Grand Forks, ND. We discussed Kabbalah, Chassidism, and the sanctification of this world through studying Torah and performing mitzvahs. Speaking of which, he proceeded to put on tefillin and read the Shema in Hebrew, put up an additional mezuzah on a basement door that did not yet have one, and purchase a number of books on a variety of Judaic topics.

The magnitude of damage caused by the flood meant that there wasn’t a room available for rent within dozens of miles of Minot, and at close to midnight, we filled the car’s gas tank, prayed the evening service in the gas station’s parking lot, and departed towards Fargo, ND, where we would check in to our hotel 233 miles later.