“The wind has gone out of my sails.” A quote from the always quotable Courtney, my sister-friend in Texas. She was commenting on her feelings after Tropical Storm Imelda surprised southeast Texas and dumped 40+inches of water in less than 48 hours. The surprise wasn’t that it was coming. Everyone knew they would get rain. The surprise was the quantity of rain in such a short time. A “rain event” turned into a deluge of epic proportions, literally making history….again.
Let me say that I’m sooooo tired of thinking, talking, writing about hurricanes and tropical storms and floods. And if I’m tired as I sit here high and dry 1000 miles away, then you can only imagine the shear exhaustion of a community barely recovered from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Harvey, the storm that put thousands upon thousands of homes under water, including my parents’. The storm that changed our family story and forced my 8o year old parents to move across the country and into a retirement community.
My first inkling that Imelda was trouble came early Thursday morning when I opened up Facebook and saw pictures of Charlene’s house, my other sister-friend, with several inches of water in it. They got just a few inches during Harvey, but those few inches caused almost two years worth of repairs and setbacks. Even a few inches can be devastating. Sheetrock soaks up water like a sponge, so not only all the floors, but a couple feet of wall board had to come out and be replaced. Meaning every single thing in her house had to be packed up and shuffled around. During that process termites were found, most likely brought in by the flood waters. And then the new wood floors started to buckle, meaning there was still moisture underneath. So up came those floors to start the process over. All the while, Charlene and her husband, Steve, were trying to live in their house and continue with life and careers as usual. And now they are right back to square one. Deja vu of the worst kind.
Charlene would be the first to say that her issues are small compared to losing your home entirely, but the pain and frustration of drying out again is overwhelming. This time they lost furniture that couldn’t be moved high enough before the water came up. Imelda came so fast in the early dawn hours that they could not stay ahead of the floods as they raced to get everything out of harms way. If there is any silver lining it is the lessons learned from Harvey. Steve had the floors pulled up almost before the water had receded. They have flood insurance to help with the cost of repairs and replacement. They have a place to stay in Courtney’s guest house. But still…..this is so painful.
Multiply Charlene and Steve’s pain by thousands of families and you have this fresh disaster in a nutshell. The neighborhood I grew up in, the one my parents moved from, is underwater again. Thankfully not over the rooftops, but up to two feet in some places. I was back there this past June for a drive through to see how things looked. Some streets and homes looked great, almost back to normal, but some have never been touched since Harvey. Imagine living next door to that, the pain fresh everyday when you walked out your door. I was overwhelmed by what I saw and sobbed for an hour as I drove around and remembered those hard days after Harvey when it literally was like a war zone. And here they are one more time.
I commented a couple days ago that I think I have PTSD from those days. It’s an anxiety that leaves a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. And again, I’m not even there, which is actually part of the problem! I’m wallowing in guilt that I can’t rush to help this time. Family obligations here won’t allow me to go to Texas right now. So I’m left to send my verbal support, and pray for all the hurt happening yet again. My friend Courtney, who has had no water either time, understands my emotions. She finds herself in the position of being extremely grateful to be dry, yet suffering along with all her friends and neighbors, doing what she can to alleviate their misery. The wind has not only gone out of her sails, but she’s just trying to keep the emotional boat afloat for Charlene and all the others struggling to come to grips with WHY….HOW this has happened again. We all might need to paddle a little harder to keep from sinking in the deep waters.