Titima To, a native of Thailand, anxiously watches the news each night about the floodwaters sweeping her homeland.
The dirty waters continue to rise in the streets of Bangkok -- home to 12 million people -- and many residents must travel the streets in boats. The city's subway system is in danger, as is the government's emergency relief center.
To's father, like many, had to abandon his home and move to the provinces. When he called back to neighbors who stayed, they said: "Don't come back. There are crocodiles."
"But my family is doing better than most families,'' said To, an accountant from Shakopee. "And that's who we want to help.''
"We'' is the Thai Association of Minnesota, along with the Thai Student Association of Minnesota. The groups held a fundraiser last week for victims of the massive flooding and continue to seek public donations.
To, treasurer of the Thai Association of Minnesota, said she was inspired to lend a hand, in part because of the generosity of her friends in Thailand. One friend who owned an apartment building in a province untouched by the waters opened available apartments to displaced families. Another friend rented a truck and gave away bottled water and food.
"I tell her, I'm doing this in Minnesota and you're doing that in Thailand,'' she said.
Even for families able to find housing in the dry provinces, returning home to check their possessions is an ordeal, To said. Her father decided to make the 100 mile trek back to Bangkok on Saturday.
"It took something like eight hours,'' she said. "He needed to take several boats, walk about 10 kilometers and drive.''
The flooding began in late July, killing more than 500 people so far. While the murky waters are receding in some provinces, they continue to rise in the outskirts of the capital.
Minnesota's Thai community has raised about $15,000 to help the victims. For information on donating, go to www.thaiofmn.org.
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511