Operation Strong Soul

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know Missoula and a bunch of other cities and towns in Montana flooded this spring. It wasn’t surprising–record snowpack plus a long, wet spring leads to flooding. I’ve previously written about the sandbagging operations, those are all wrapped up. What isn’t wrapped up? The recovery.

Like most disaster recovery, it’s slow. The one in Missoula is super slow, because of the length of time property was under water and how slowly the river receded.

Several church groups have been out helping in various ways, but there’s a ton of work to be done and timing is tricky. No matter when Team Rubicon did a recovery operation, it would be too late or too early for some homeowners. Our operation ended up being too late, but since many of our members have summer-only jobs, we can only do small operations in the summer months.

On the last weekend of June, we kicked off Operation Strong Soul–the name fits Missoula so well! We helped a couple of older homeowners well outside the city limits cleanup sandbags and muck out a garage. And inside the city, in the worst of the flood area, we moved more sandbags, mucked out an office and a storage shed full of precious memories and salvaged some fencing.

Did any of those things get a family back in their house? No, unfortunately. Our timing was too late for most houses and some are still pumping water out. But, it did help five families move on, mentally and physically. And sometimes the mental component is more important than the physical. Sometimes, just a small helping hand can give a survivor the strength to continue the work, rather than giving up.

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Not only that, but we gave three Team Rubicon members the chance to participate in their first operation, to finally see their training pay off. We also brought elements of our sandbagging team back together again and gave our State Ops Chief, Alex, her first chance at Incident Commander. She knocked it out of the park!

Once again, Team Rubicon was small but mighty, making an impact beyond our size.

Big thanks are due to Nathan and Jennifer of Missoula Flood Support and Missoula Recovers; Nancy and Ron of Emmanuel Lutheran Church for writing a grant request and Thrivent Financial for filling that grant, allowing us to eat way better than we normally do; Christ the King Catholic Church for providing a comfortable home away from home; and the Red Cross of Montana for loaning us cots. And to the people of Missoula who continue to support us so enthusiastically–Thanks!

Stay Strong Missoula–you’ve got Soul!

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