Tuesday, February 2nd, Minnesota got one of its largest snow storms of the 2016 winter. The southwestern part of the state got over ten inches and as the day went on 45 mph winds came up causing white out conditions across the prairie. Plows were pulled off the roads and highways were closed west of Interstate 35 to the South Dakota border. In this kind of weather people hunker down and don’t go anywhere. One stays home and stays safe until the wind dies down again.
At 2:30 am, that night a massive explosion and fire rocked the main street of Madelia, my hometown. (pop. 2200) Several small explosions continued to happen. The 45 mph winds took the fire and spread it quickly from store to store on this historic street. The volunteer fire department did what they could, but soon calls went out to six departments in surrounding communities. The problem was all the roads were blocked with huge drifts and snow plows had to be called to go before the fire trucks to get them to Madelia. All in all eight buildings would burn that night and more will have to be torn down because they were damaged by fire and water.
This small town is devastated by this tragic event. Rural communities depend on their main streets as the life blood that keeps them together. Among those businesses lost were a florist, dentist, hair salon, and everyone’s favorite Mexican restaurant. My heart sunk when the news came over the web Wednesday morning. I went to memories of ordering the flowers for my dad’s funeral at the florist and how after the wake my siblings and all the grandchildren gathered at the restaurant to tell stories about Grandpa.
But what is truly amazing is the faith of the people of this town. The recurring theme one will hear is that no one died, that how blessed they were. If this explosion had happened during the day it’s possible over a hundred people could have died or been injured because they were in the stores or eating in the restaurant. No fire fighters were hurt traveling the snow bound roads or while fighting the fire. My brother, David, who is a local EMT, said the most they saw were scrapes and scratches, and some very cold men from being around the water in the freezing temperatures.
That very afternoon pastors of the local churches gathered their people together to pray and to give thanks. Our Creator in all his faithfulness had protected everyone. Just where was God early last Wednesday morning-Watching very carefully over all these good people.
They will rebuild. This little town I grew up in is coming together to start over. Their hearts have been torn in two and so much seems lost, but they will stand firm and move forward. I ask you to pray for them in the months and years ahead.
The video below gives you a feeling for the history of this street and what happened during the fire. Take a moment to view it.