Red Lake Nation Honors Partnership with MDS for Storm Repairs
The Red Lake Nation held a celebration last week to recognize Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) for their first year of working with the community.
Red Lake was impacted by a severe storm in 2021, but with the assistance of MDS this past spring, they were able to repair homes as well as remodel an empty facility for MDS volunteers.
Robert Neadeau, Red Lake’s Director of Emergency Services, had been on the job for nearly three months when the storm hit and needed to find someone willing to repair the homes after being told it was “not declared a disaster” by FEMA.
Before starting the project within the tribe, there was a bond that needed to be built in order to get the trust of the Red Lake Nation.
“We contacted [MDS Disaster Response Coordinator] Jeff Koller, and then I had a meeting with him and his staff and then invited them to the tribe and just to look at all of the damage that was done and see if we could work out a partnership and restoring these these damaged homes,” said Neadeau.
One of the main priorities before starting the project was to construct a volunteer station for the volunteers to arrive and go while renovating the house.
“I found a few other resources that accommodated us at the beginning. But, you know, for this project, long term, we needed our own facility to accommodate these volunteers,” explained Neadeau.
This became a location not only for volunteers, but also for anyone in need of a place to remain within the reservation if their home is hit by a storm.
During the dinner, the Red Lake Nation expressed their gratitude to MDS, and MDS expressed their gratitude to them for allowing them to come and provide service and learn about their people.
MDS has made plans to revisit Red Lake Nation next spring to plan more projects for the community.