North Dakota Bookseller Deals With Flood’s Aftermath

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Flooding in Minot as captured in a photo from the Main Street Books website.

After record flooding in Minot, North Dakota, one third of the city is under water, but Val Stadick’s home and her bookstore, Main Street Books, are dry. With her house and business safe, Stadick is focusing on helping friends and neighbors. “As thousands have been evacuated and now find themselves homeless, we want to remind them they are welcome always for free coffee and conversation and hugs,” she posted on the store’s website.

“My husband and I and our younger son were fortunate,” Stadick told BTW. “We managed to stay high and dry, but my daughter was displaced, and all of my employees are homeless.”

Stadick is having a hard time watching others in Minot struggle while she hasn’t incurred any property damage. “I have survivor’s guilt,” she said. “I helped sandbag. I’m trying to help people save what they can. Now, we’re just waiting it out for water to recede to see if homes are salvageable.”

Flood levels are three feet higher than the previous record, set in 1969, and the water isn’t expected to recede for the next few days. “It going to be a slow process,” Stadick said. Since many of her storytime regulars couldn’t make it to the bookstore, the other day she held a storytime at the Red Cross Center. She is also considering organizing a fundraiser for victims of the flood.

 “We’ve suddenly become a really divided city, of haves and have nots,” said Stadick. “It makes the haves feel kind of uncomfortable, but all the haves have reached out to the have nots. They all have people staying with them.” 

Main Street Books has remained open, although sales are down 80 - 90 percent. “It’s pretty dead,” said Stadick, who is concerned about the bookstore’s prospects.  On’s Booksellers Forum, she is asking other booksellers for advice.  Although it is early, Stadick is worried about meeting bills, rent, and payroll. “Any sort of help available out there to business that I should be aware of and what kind of expectations should I have for our local retail environment in the next six months?”  she asked. (Suggestions can also be sent directly to Stadick at [email protected].)

The American Booksellers Association has reached out to Stadick and her employees to make them aware of the availability of grants from the Booksellers Relief Fund (BRF), which provides emergency humanitarian relief to those working in the retail book industry who have been adversely affected by a natural disaster or other significant event.

Booksellers Relief Fund Stands Ready to Help

The Booksellers Relief Fund (BRF), established by ABA in 2005, following the disaster in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina,  grants funds for humanitarian relief to individuals to cover such items as temporary housing, food, clothing, transportation, medical expenses, and/or other personal items lost or damaged.

Any employees (who worked for 25 hours or more a week) in any retail bookselling entity located within a federally declared disaster area are eligible to receive a one-time $500 grant. Booksellers applying for funds must submit a statement affirming that they are no longer being paid by the store where they worked.

An application for North Dakota booksellers who want to apply for assistance from the Booksellers Relief Fund is available here.