Hope in Flood Waters
The holiday season has arrived! Our tree is up, packages are being ordered, and we have lit the first candle of Advent, the Hope candle. In this season of hope, let us not forget those who are holding on to threads of hope, those who have lost so much and are continuing to raise themselves from the flooded waters.
September was devastating for many in the Houston area, as well as Florida and Puerto Rico. The hurricane season had an enormous impact on our coastal areas. The flooding in our area was particularly bad. Some houses receiving up to 6 feet of water. Many are still out of their homes (or living in cramped quarters in the upstairs of their homes), facing months of continued renovation and reconstruction.
During the storm, we were most worried about my sister and her family as waters in the creeks rose. Their neighborhood is one that floods because of a retention pond just to the north of their house, as well as a creek that flows around their area. As the water began to creep up the street they live on, they decided to evacuate themselves, four kids and a dog early in the morning. They were limited on space, as their larger vehicle was left in Colorado because it had broken down while vacationing just two weeks prior to Harvey landing in Houston. They brought a couple changes of clothes, their toiletries and food for their dog.
As they drove away, I’m certain they felt that everything they had left behind would be fine. It had been fine in all the previous flooding that had occurred in their neighborhood, even with the 2016 Tax Day flood that was later dubbed a 500- year flood had only gotten to the bottom step of their home. No one was prepared for the immense amount of rain that fell in our area over those three days. My brother-in-law tried to keep tabs on what was going on by texting neighbors who had decided to stay and ride it out. Then they received the news… water was in their house…It was in everyone’s house…
The knowing that water was in their house swishing around, not caring what it touched or damaged, brought with it the feeling of helplessness. Followed by waiting, having to have the patience to wait until the water had receded enough to safely return home, to see what the water had done, and how much had really gotten in.
I didn’t go that first day they were able to get in to their house. My husband went. 30 inches of water had worked its way into their beautiful house, with their precious things. It had toppled chairs, and toys. It had soaked through books, clothing, mattresses and couches. After their initial shock, they began pulling things out that could be saved; and tossing the things that couldn’t. Bags and bags of clothing that needed to be disinfected and washed were packed into cars and delivered to my parent’s house where they were split up and divided to three different houses to be washed. Photo Albums were packed into a car to be stored at a safe and dry location – as the humidity in the house was incredibly high.
I went over on the second day, to help pack up her china – and then take it home to wash and pack. I was lucky and was able to park in front of their house, as the entire street was full of cars. It’s really hard to describe the complete devastation, or to understand the scope of it. Out on curbs were the beginnings of rubble piles. Chairs, furniture, books, cribs, drywall, insulation, flooring, appliances, doors, trim, carpet…heaped into huge piles, one in front of each house devastated by flood waters. On her street, everyone was affected, and hundreds of homes in the surrounding area. Street after street of the same piles, the same heaps, the same worn out homeowners trying to rid their homes of the wet and get them to dry out quickly, before the mold took hold. As I drove through the different neighborhoods and areas affected, my heart ached. To see their things, their precious things that they had taken care to pick out, to place carefully in their homes, and now those things were sitting on the curb waiting for the big trucks to come and take it all away was heart-breaking.
I am so very grateful that my sister and her family left when they did; that they were tucked away safe and sound at our parent’s house, where they will remain until their house is once again livable. I can’t help but think about the things that they have lost, that have been heaved into the big pile of rubbish and hauled away by even bigger trash trucks.
I’m saddened by the mementos they lost, the irreplaceable, precious things that were tucked in seemingly safe places. Yes, they are just things…and most can be replaced. But can they all? Yes, things are just things, but they are your things. They each have a story behind them. Snap a picture, write the story, save it – your memories are worth it.
Through it all they have shown their Hope. Hope that they can repair and return to their home. Hope that they can continue their busy lives even after being displaced. Hope to take the opportunity to make things better. HOPE that their family continues to be safe, healthy, thriving. HOPE.