It’s three weeks after the Great Louisiana Flood of 2016, and I feel a little like a UFO abductee who reports that they have missing time—they can’t recall what happened to them between the time the UFO picked them up and put them back. I can relate. I think I’m a #LAflood abductee. There are about 16 days in August that are a blur of floodiness, starting when we rescued Mom by boat on August 13 and then finally got her settled and I was able to return to my normal(ish) daily routine on August 26.
Conversations around Baton Rouge now include asking friends if they got water. That’s shorthand for “Did your house flood and if so, how are you doing, now?” We share stories from the frontline of rescuing family members, saying goodbye to treasured items that are now ruined, and celebrate when we learn that” …the water came up to the back fence but not in the house thank God.”
Now that things have calmed down a bit, we’re seeing some mindblowing stats. Twenty of Louisiana’s 64 parishes (that’s “counties” to y’all who are not in Louisiana) have flooded to the point of being declared an official disaster area. That’s one third of the state. 140,000 homes flooded. Even the Louisiana Governor had to evacuate because the Governor’s mansion got water in the basement. I didn’t know we even had basements down here.
I liked this line I read from a story in the Huffington Post: http://huff.to/2b6rVK8
“No stories of looting, no stories of riots, no devolving of society to the lowest forms of humanity…instead a tragedy that has brought out the best in friends, family, and neighbors; people who help others before they help themselves…who see the assistance of others as an assistance of self.”
I saw that demonstrated over and over, in gestures big and small.
We go to businesses that have torn up floors and exposed studs where the sheetrock has been cut away. We wait patiently in line because we know what they went through. We’re all in the same club—a free membership that none of us signed up for. But here we all are. Looking out for one another and showing kindnesses to floodshocked strangers. My newsfeed has gone from photos of drowned houses, to photos of rebuilding and I am happy to see the resilience of my community.
I spoke recently with a friend who helped me gain some perspective on the events of recent weeks. When things calmed down a bit, it was easy to second-guess myself and wonder whether or not we could have salvaged more of my Mom’s things. His wise perspective was that even if we could have saved more items, I would still have felt that I could have done more. There is regret built into the process of a disaster. I listened thoughtfully and cried a bunch, and felt better afterwards. The losses were still sad, but I felt lighter.
An antidote to loss is gratitude, and a sense of wonder at what new good things can come out of this monumental change. I discovered that water has its own artistic ability, and what I thought at first were ruined photos had instead become flood art. Change in life is inevitable, and like water in a flood, it helps us as humans to flow with it instead of resisting.
#laflood #louisianaflood #gratitude