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Published May 31 2012

FEMA trailer is home for now for Minot couple, but for how long?

MINOT, N.D. – Jacque Younger is quick to answer why she doesn’t leave Minot despite spending the past year living in homeless shelters and a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer.

“We’ve lived here for 32 years,” she said while doing her needlework. “I’ve got roots here. Why should I move?”

The Youngers are among the thousands still living in FEMA trailers in Ward County after last summer’s Souris River flood. There once were almost 2,000 emergency trailers in the county for flood victims. There now are about 1,500.

Life for the 65-year-old and her husband, Les, hasn’t been easy the past year, but she hasn’t let it get her down.

“Someday, I’m going to have to write a book because this is very interesting,” she said.

East of Minot where the Youngers now live, home sweet home is row after row of trailers and beat-up dirt roads.

It’s an upgrade from the emergency homeless shelters they lived in the first few months after the June 2011 flood.

“I’ve learned a lot this past year about getting along with people and living in small spaces,” she said.

The Youngers lost their rental home and a van in the flood. They could see their home from Minot State University and watched as the water rose to cover their van and then slowly receded.

“I had the best garden I had had in years, so it was horrible to see all these beautiful flowers and then, all of a sudden, they were gone,” she said.

The Youngers lived in shelters the first few months after the flood. Home consisted of a cot and little else.

“I don’t think I’d like to do that again,” she said with a laugh.

In October, the couple moved into their FEMA trailer, where they continue to live with their cat and Maltese/Yorkie. Most of their belongings are stored in assorted places but – after getting used to living without them for a year – they expect to sell some of them.

They continue to search for a new place to live but can’t afford rent in the price-spiked city.

“Even $1,000 (per month), we could make that work, but when you’re talking $2,000 and you’re on retirement … that just doesn’t work,” Jacque Younger said. “I’m not interested in going back to work full time. I’m not 20 anymore.”

So, they wait patiently until they find the home for them. After all, it’s been a year of learning to be grateful for little things.

“I used to tell the people in the shelter that God has a plan,” she said. “He hasn’t told me yet, and sometimes I get a little impatient, but he does have a plan for this whole situation.”


Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.