There is no way that these people would be able to get their homes back without all the manpower of so many compassionate people coming together to provide love, support and muscles. No amount of money would have been able to buy the services to make this disaster go away. And this is only the beginning of their recovery too.
I would like you to just take a moment and think of your home. I would like you to think of the walls and the floors. Your front yard, your backyard. Your belongings.
Now I would like you to think of water pouring in through every tiny crack and crevice that it can find. Pouring in and filling any space that it can find, even making new space so that it can fit. It’s pouring in and seeping into everything in it’s way. With this water comes mud. I’m hesitant to even call it mud, it’s sewage, it’s sludge.
And this sludge is taking over your home.
Now, you’re not thinking of your home, the walls and floors, the yard, your belongings. You’re thinking much deeper than that. You’re looking at your walls that don’t exist, you’re looking at the paint on them that doesn’t even exist. The drywall that has crumbled to pieces, pieces that have become part of this sludge. You’re looking at your insulation that must be pulled from its once-dry space between your walls. You’re looking at the wires that are coming out of the frame of your basement, from what was once your ceiling. Your looking at your floors, inches deep in water and sludge. You’re looking at your hardwood floors that you installed yourself having no choice but to absorb the liquid above it. You’re looking at your carpet but not seeing or feeling anything that is even close to a carpet. Now you’re not thinking of your belongings, but instead
your furniture – the chairs, couch, dining room table, cupboards, china cabinet, beds, shelves, tv’s, dvd players, everything. You’re thinking of everything thing on or in those – the books, the photo albums and baby books, the things passed down through generations, your wine collection, your journals filled with stories from when you were young and adventurous, you’re beautiful china, the baby clothes you’re saving for your future children, the homework and art you made growing up. Now you’re thinking of the tiles you installed yourself, the oven and dishwasher you’ll never use again, the washer and dryer that will only ever contain mud now. You’re thinking of how it is not even possible to recognize any of these as they once were, they have all become a masterpiece of the flood, a collage of your material life in the form of black sludge.
What I thought I saw yesterday at the homeless shelter was nothing compared to what I saw today. It was only the very tip of the iceberg. Today I went into the homes that couldn’t do anything but surrender to the monster that had no mercy. I’ve heard so much about how horrible this even has been, how many problems it’s caused for so many people. But like always – you need to see it with your own eyes to believe it.
I guess what I was thinking when I was hearing ‘flood’ was a couple of inches of water in a basement; Nothing a couple people with buckets couldn’t take care of, right? But that is just not the reality of the situation at all. Everything in the path of this water was destroyed. Inches of sludge over grass, side-walks and roads. Feet of water and mud in basements, even main floors for some. Everything in the way of this river became the river and stayed in these houses with no where else to go. I saw a couch in a tree and things stuffed into basement rafters that the water had carried to the top. These houses are needing to be taken apart little piece by little piece, little bucket by little bucket. These beautiful homes were turned into big muddy, messy, wet, sites of destruction.
Of course you’ve heard about the thousands of volunteers helping too, right? I did too, but seeing it is an entirely different thing. I don’t know if I saw the same person twice, there were always new volunteers. The house I spent the day in (about 4-5 hours) had roughly 50 people at any given time. I didn’t know anybody ( well, aside from the 3 or 4 people that I did) but that didn’t matter at all. We all had once goal – to make this house a little less like a river. So we worked together to make that happen. We might have even shared a laugh or two at the same time. Each and every single one of us was covered head to toe in mud – just like the houses.
I’ve seen a lot of really devastating things in the past year or so, and this is definitely one of them. My mind is blown by what I have seen here, in my home city, today. So many times today I said ‘This isn’t real, is it?’.
Mother Nature is incredible and powerful, unfortunately she’s not all beauty.