Friday, September 16, 2011

A reminder

Today, I traveled about 45 minutes south to Owego, NY to help out at one of the disaster relief centers.  Our agency has an office in that county, too, but their staff is overwhelmed (both with the influx of needs, but also in dealing with their own homes, many of which also sustained flooding) - so staff from the neighboring counties have been taking turns heading down to help.  The center where I was working today was handing out the basic essentials:  gallons of bleach, cases of rubber gloves and masks, peanut butter, toilet paper....

I will not attempt to even describe all of the devastation.  Most of the people coming in to pick up items had between 5 and 8 feet of water in their first floors.  They still are without power, over a week later.  It was an unseasonably cold day, and raining.  Pictures cannot explain what it felt like to drive down a street and see the entire contents of each house piled at the curb - not just the furniture and belongings, but the walls themselves.  Drywall and insulation all had to go.

Seeing the situation particularly struck a chord with me, having just lived through the kitchen renovation.  It's an eerie feeling to have your house down to the studs.  Except that when we tore out our walls, we wanted them to go.  We carefully removed our belongings first.  Nothing was wet.  The walls weren't a toxic hazard.  Our renovation was isolated to the kitchen.  We had hot showers and clean clothes when we finished working.  I can't even imagine having to take a crowbar to wet, soggy walls - not walls you want to renovate, but the walls that were already decorated as you wanted, the walls that had surrounded 20, 30, 40 years of family life in your home.

So, tonight, please say a prayer for everyone who is facing such unimaginable clean-up.  And take a look around your own house and say a big prayer of thanksgiving.  That's what I'm doing.


  1. Sitting in the middle of general chaos that results from spending a week meeting deadline after deadline, and thinking of all the maintenance that has to be done yet this fall. Newly thankful that it's just a mess and a few repairs, easily managed. Wow. Will certainly be praying for these folks.

  2. My mom is volunteering this weekend in the also hard hit Harrisburg, Pa. Prayers go out to all the families struck by the flooding. It reminds the rest of us to be thankful for the blessings we have.