Sunday, June 13 was not a typical Sabbath for members of the local ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sidney. Instead of coming in their Sunday best at 10 a.m. for Sacrament meeting service and Sunday School, everyone gathered at the chapel at 7:30 a.m. in work clothes prepared to do storm cleanup throughout the community.
On the previous Friday, Bishop Joseph Knapp had been driving around the county for his job and saw downed trees, snapped power poles, and general devastation caused by the recent storms. On his return home, he prayed, “Who is going to help these people?” His answer came as he felt prompted that he could quickly organize his ward members to do something to help those that were facing massive cleanup. An emergency council meeting was called with the ward leaders and a plan was quickly put into place and the word was spread through social media, calls, and texts that the Sabbath would not be a normal “day of rest.”
Bishop Jeremy Ewing of the Watford City Ward called to offer his ward’s help, also. On
Saturday 75-80 volunteers came from Watford City to help with chainsaws, trailers, skid-steers, and lots of sweat to help whoever needed it.
Sunday morning the members from Sidney, Fairview, and Bainville arrived at the Sidney Chapel at 7:30 a.m. dressed in work clothes for a short Sacrament meeting to partake of the Lord’s supper. They then divided into small groups.
The members brought chain saws, pickups, trailer beds, shovels, and any other tools that were needed. While driving around the county they looked for people and businesses that needed help. Additional volunteers from Watford City came again on Sunday after their church meetings.
An estimated 210 youth and adult volunteers spent all day Sunday cutting fallen trees, cleaning up branches, repairing roofs and removing debris. The Richland County landfill agreed to open so all the trailers could be dumped. The day ended around 6 p.m.
Many of those that were helped asked what the cost was. “We’re not here for your money. We’re here to help,” Bishop Knapp said. Everyone that participated said it was a gratifying experience and a blessing to be able to serve in the community they love.