‘I Didn’t Expect To Be Homeless In The Snow’

Toby Butler of Red Bluff, Calif., walks Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Williston, N.D., after submitting a job application at Walmart. Butler arrived in Williston Saturday night on the Amtrak and didn’t expect to get caught in a snow storm. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – Toby Butler was in for a surprise Saturday night when he arrived in Williston on the Amtrak from Red Bluff, Calif.

He got off the train at the beginning of a snow storm with $30 in his pocket and no place to stay. The 24-year-old said he checked the weather about a week before leaving for North Dakota, but he didn’t know about the winter storm until he was an hour away from Williston.

“I didn’t expect to be homeless in the snow,” said Butler, who had never seen much snow before Sunday.

Butler met a taxi driver at the Amtrak station who gave him a free ride to Concordia Lutheran Church, where he stayed for the weekend.

On Sunday, Butler walked around Williston in the snow and wind to submit job applications at Walmart and hotels. He wore layers and a heavy coat, but forgot gloves.

Butler worked as a roofer in California and decided to move to North Dakota to look for work after he separated with his fiancee and no longer had housing. He’s looking for any job in Williston, but eventually would like to work in construction or the oilfield.

Christian Newman of New Orleans, who moved to North Dakota in January, rides his bike after working a shift at the Microtel hotel in Williston, N.D., during a snow storm on Sunday, April 14, 2013.

Christian Newman of New Orleans was also out in the storm Sunday. Newman, who moved to North Dakota in January, rides his bike to work from his camper near downtown Williston to the Microtel hotel.

Newman said his vehicle needs repairs and a roundtrip taxi ride can cost $25 to $30. He saves money by riding his bike.

“Not everyone here works in the oilfield,” Newman said.