The Roundup -

Tornado Relief Fund BBQ and Update


August 15, 2018 | View PDF

Pictured are some of the items donated to the victims of the tornado that struck Watford City on July 10.

The McKenzie County Department of Emergency Management helped to organize a barbeque event for those adversely affected by the tornado that touched down and destroyed much of the Prairie View RV Park in Watford City, North Dakota. The event was not only meant as a gesture of care and compassion but also helped put emergency management personnel, volunteers and supporters in direct contact with those who need recovery assistance.

According to Jappe, there were probably 300 lots on the ground at the Prairie View RV Park, with 79 deemed unlivable, and everyone was invited to attend the barbeque. The event was kept open later for those who were working long days and wanted to attend after they got off work. All of those who were hit by the tornado were invited to attend, including a few residents who were right outside the park and got hit by the wind.

The Roundup spoke with Karolin Jappe, the McKenzie County Emergency Manager, about the event which brought together the emergency and disaster volunteers with the victims of the tornado.

"It was very nice," Jappe told The Roundup. "We have so far had 59 different families or single individuals that have came in. It means they could take whatever they wanted that we had available and also apply for assistance."

Jappe continued, "To qualify for the fundraiser that's been ongoing, those affected by the tornado have to qualify through Lutheran Social Services. And then, we have an Unmet Needs Committee, which will evaluate their specific situation. Once that intake is done and verify income and loss and so on, Lutheran Social Services should be able to disburse funds and get checks to people by September."

Not everyone with tornado damage has sought help, however.

Jappe reported, "Some people chose not to seek help for various reason. Some had insurance or some think that they don't need handouts. I'd rather we not really think about it as a hand out. And for some people, I don't know the reason they haven't sought the assistance that's available."

"The one who hosted the event was Equinor, formally Statoil, and they put the whole barbeque together for us. And then there are those who I call 'my little angels.' This are the ladies in the community that have been so, so helpful. There's no way I couldn't have done what I have done without the ladies in the community."

"For example," Jappe said, "ten days after the tornado I had a scheduled vacation, and I changed things around, but when I did have to leave they stepped up to help. They are a blessing in disguise. I'm bringing in a training in the future so if something like this happens again we'll have a little team put together."

Jappe reports that they have received approximately 250 thousand dollars in donations for the tornado victims.

Jappe said, "You can't imagine the number of people who have donated. I have a list, not of personal names, but of companies and businesses that have given. I also included in that record the people who have items and helped with the clean up, like those who brought the dump truck, the porta potties and so much more."

The sizable relief fund was not contributed to by the federal or state government, but was entirely locally supported.

Jappe said, "We really didn't need any help from the state. The county is amazing and I've never seen anything like it to be honest with you. I'm so grateful to live here and I'll probably live here the rest of my life."


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