It took me a full minute to register the implications of the gaping hole in the side of the basement, though they’d been floating through my mind all day.
For one thing, I had been standing above the spot where the flood waters piled and pressed against the wall until it’s integrity was breeched, causing it to collapse inward. For another, my father had been in the basement moments before- the basement which had filled with water in less than ten seconds- water that gushed in and flattened everything in it’s wake against the wall.
I could of fallen through the ceiling. He would have, for sure, been crushed.
Imaginably, nothing in the basement made it.
Yet in light of the storm that swept over our lives last weekend, we were blessed. Despite the dangers that the storm caused, none of us sustained any injuries. Our pets both made it through with no problems. And despite some old memories that now lay soaked under the massive clutter of the water logged underground room, most of the first floor and all of the second went untouched.
That doesn’t stop my street from looking like the end of a Spielberg movie. Dust is layered over everything. Water marks lie across many of the houses. Two homes are still condemned, one whose foundation began to fall apart, and the other who suffered a massive gas leak. And two streets over, one small old structure gave a heavy sigh before collapsing in on itself once and for all.
But the mood is hopeful, for the most part, as you walk from house to house, watching the neighbors pile their own garbage onto their lawns. While the houses aren’t in great shape, the people are all alive and safe. One ecstatic family was reunited with their dog, who they thought had drowned, but instead had swam to shelter and survived. The only deaths that occurred where those of two chickens that belonged to a neighbor.
On the first night after the flood, I stayed with a very generous friend who opened her home to me, despite that her own family was struggling without power and water. Grateful to have a bed to sleep in, I tried not to let myself get caught up in the disaster of our own home, but the unknowns left me feeling sad. How much had been lost? How were my parents doing in the midst of all this mess? How long would it take to rebuild, before our lives got back to normal?
But now the rebuilding has started and I have to say, I have never been so grateful in my life. For while I always knew that I had a lot of friends, I never realized the extent of loved I and my family really are. We have friends who offered their homes when we needed places to sleep. We have relied on others for hot showers when so many of our neighbors have no water. We have had numerous volunteers who have come over to start to move the mess from the basement, and fix up the rest of the house to a better-than-before state. We have been given the gift of so many people’s love and warmth, and I, who have always struggled to rely on others, feel loved and strengthened through this out pouring of concern and compassion.
I think about how the last few days have impacted me, and I see a few things that I didn’t really expect of myself. I don’t feel sorry for us because so many others got away unscathed, but instead, feel almost giddy that so many people fared so well. I am proud of my family for our capability to get up and get out, and of my parents for not wallowing in their hardship, but for getting started making positive changes already. But mostly, I am just loved- and I don’t mean just feeling loved- I am loved. I know, because throughout all of the horrors that the hurricane brought, it could not wash away the outpouring of caring and support that has since engulfed me.
And if I drown in that, I think I will be okay.