I interrupt my regularly scheduled blog post and the content of this blog to bring to you an update of our lives. As most of you know, we relocated our family at the beginning of July to be closer to our family. The 200 mile move was just what our hearts needed. The events of the last two weeks, however, have been not so welcoming.
Let me take you back two weeks ago, maybe three by the time I get this up on the blog. It rained for what seemed like forever. We knew when we bought our house that our street was notorious for flooding but everyone told us it never got up to the houses. Ok. I can handle a little street flooding. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, it got to our house, and our basement. We had absolutely no idea what to do. Do you try to clean it up? Do you call someone? Is this covered by home insurance? Luckily, Jackson was not home when it happened, as we lost some of his toys and books that were on the basement floor. Also, luckily, we moved those 200 miles to be closer to family and friends and in the matter on one phone call help had arrived; thankfully. We didn’t own a shop vac. We didn’t own a long enough extension cord. We didn’t own a hose long enough to get the water out of our house. The next thing you know, we had more and more help arriving to get the carpet out of the basement, along with the water!
Ok. We made it through. We had a plan in place, in case it happened again. Guess what? It happened again about six hours later. Right when we thought we were getting our basement dry. We hauled back out the shop vac and started right back where we were.
In the midst of all this, we were out with our neighbors making sure they were all ok. Checking on our two elderly neighbors across the street. Finding out how much water everyone had in their basement. Did they need any help. By this time, we thought we were pros at this whole flooding thing. Oh man, were we in for a treat.
We had finally got the basement dry and moved the cat’s food and cat litter back downstairs. Let me remind you, our area called for rain for like 11 days in a row or something crazy like that. Well, we thought the next “big” storm was coming on that Tuesday/Tuesday night. We were wrong. It came Monday night. And it came hard. We got to bed early that night because Jackson was going to be starting his first day of school on Tuesday. And he did such a great job. Went to bed early, no problem. Which, considering we hadn’t gone to bed before 9:00 all summer long, having him asleep by 8:00 was great!
JJ and I watched out the windows and paced our house as the water came pouring down. We would go downstairs and see if it was coming in downstairs. Then go back out on the front porch and check the water levels out there. We tried to go to bed. But, if you were to ask me, fear kept me awake. This time it felt different. This time Jackson was home. I am what some would call an over-protective mom. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to him. He was my main concern.
So, as we watched the levels go higher and higher, we had no choice but to leave. What would we do if the water level had come up to our front door. Have you seen flood water move? It isn’t slow. There is no way Jackson would walk through it himself. Or what if he got swept away in the water. We packed up one book bag with whatever we felt we needed to take with us, not knowing if we would be coming back to a house still standing or not. Do you know how eery that feels? Knowing you are walking away from your house with only what you had in your bag. It is the most uncomfortable feeling I have ever experienced.
Well, we made the decision to leave. Now, to get Jackson out of bed at 1:30 in the morning and walk the three blocks (which turned out to be more like 5 or 6 because we couldn’t go the short way, the water was too high) to our nearest relative’s house. And being the most brave child I know, he did a great job. JJ strapped the book bag on his back and carried Jackson in the front and out the back door we went. Stepping into three feet of water. Here we go. We got this. We have to get him to where we know it is safe.
We made it. Side note. Good thing we know our family’s garage door code. We snuck in their house and made ourselves comfortable on their couches. Only to hear drip, drip, drip, dropping on JJ’s head while he tried to sleep. We just couldn’t get away from the water! We laugh about it now, but in the moment I think we both just wanted to cry. I also think neither of us got much sleep that night. I worried about what condition our house was going to be found it. Would what we have in our book bag be all we have to our name?
Needless to say, they didn’t have the first day of school on Tuesday. The buses couldn’t get out and a lot of the students/teachers/roads were affected by the flood. But then what? What condition would we find our house in? I stayed with Jackson and JJ and his cousin went to investigate the situation. Much to our surprise, it wasn’t a loss. It wasn’t great. But it wasn’t a loss. The other good thing, there was nothing down there to get wet. We had put everything else up the last time it flooded. But this time it left a layer of mud in our basement. What a relief. For us that is. Our neighbors, not so much. One lost an entire wall in their basement. The other, their entire basement, including water heater, freezers, and all their contents. How could I feel a sigh of relief knowing my neighbors were hurting? I couldn’t and still can’t.
If you know anything about me, I am one of the most empathetic people you will ever meet in your life. I take on what other people are feeling. And sometimes too much and it is detrimental to me. So, as I type, my heart still aches for my neighbors. The neighbors that have taken us in. The neighbors that have lost more than us. The neighbors that have become our friends.
Much of this is the cliff notes version. The emotions, the events, and the stress are lost in translation when trying to tell the whole story. Or, I left out the part where we lost one of our cars to the flood damage it received. Or, the tears we cried as we hugged our neighbors because we were all trying to be strong for our kids. Or the time the church brought everyone on our block lunch. Or the church that has oil changes for free this weekend to help. Or the countless number of conversations with our neighbors. Or the unity our neighborhood has created in this darkness. Those, those are hard to put to paper and pen.
But as JJ and I reflected over the last two months, we had a good laugh. We have half a house, half of a running car, half the salary he made last year, and we both are happier than we have been in a very long time. For that, I give all the glory to God.