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Published December 21 2011

A special delivery for Minot families

BISMARCK – A family from Colorado made a special delivery to North Dakota on Wednesday just in time for Christmas.

The Kerry and Sylvia Tetley family filled their Suburban with presents and made the 12-hour drive from Fort Collins to brighten the holidays for Minot children affected by flooding.

Sylvia Tetley said the family was in Minot this summer during their travels with her husband, who works in the oil and gas industry. At the time, more than 11,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes due to the historic flooding of the Souris (Mouse) River.

The family saw the sandbagging, gutted homes and piles of ruined belongings. They also stayed at a hotel where flood-stricken families were living. The experience affected the family and inspired 13-year-old son Palmer to help, Sylvia Tetley said.

Using the theme “families that played together, stayed together,” Palmer enlisted the help of his middle school and neighbors this fall to collect board games, card games, puzzles and movies for Minot families.

“After I went up there and saw all the devastation, I really wanted to help,” Palmer said. “It’s sad to see what happened to the kids and families up there.”

Sylvia Tetley estimated there were up to 200 presents in the back of their Suburban.

The family met with Gov. Jack Dalrymple at the Capitol before heading to Minot to make their delivery.

“It makes me feel good that I can help the people who lost everything,” Palmer said. “For those people who lost everything and can’t get a very good Christmas, this can help them get a better Christmas, all these donations.”

Dalrymple was impressed with the seventh-grader’s effort, as well as Palmer’s presentation to him and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk of the National Guard on how to create a diversion to prevent flooding in Minot in the future.

Palmer, who wants to be an engineer, said his plan would use piping and pumps to transfer water from the Souris River. The plan would involve discussions with Canada and cost a quarter of a billion dollars, but would save money and prevent damage in the future, he said.

Dalrymple said he liked Palmer’s ideas and said it was touching to see Palmer’s work to help children in Minot.

“That really says something about how people feel about the Minot flood,” Dalrymple said. “They’re willing to help us in all parts of the country. At this time of the year, especially, we really appreciate that.”

Sylvia Tetley said her husband will do some work while they are in North Dakota and then the family will head for home on Friday.

“It’s going to be a pretty rushed trip, but you know it’s for a good cause,” she said.

Teri Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.