When Memorial Day Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Memorial Day always meant the start of the summer season, a long holiday weekend to get everyone in the spirit of the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. For those with a vacation place, it is a great time to escape for the first time of the season. That’s exactly what I did last Memorial Day, without a clue of what was ahead of me as I returned home.

Of course, while all of us are barbecuing and frolicking, we must give pause for the reason for the holiday – those brave men and women who gave their lives in service in the armed forces. It is nice to see the patriotism displayed, flags flying, people dressed in red, white, and blue.

Now though, Memorial Day takes on still another meaning. It serves as a memorial to my homestead, which flooded exactly one year ago on Memorial Day.

In the days, weeks, and months following that event, damages were assessed and it was decided the home was a total loss. My beautiful, wonderful family home would be reduced to a pile of rubble and the land would stand bare until we built a new home.

So now we wander, without a real home. Our stuff is here, there, and everywhere – the stuff of course that survived. We are still displaced and likely to stay that way through the end of the calendar year of 2016 and perhaps beyond. That will make a total of one and a half years of displacement.

At our advanced ages, displacement isn’t easy. We had to find a place for my elderly father to live so he would not be displaced, as he had lived in our home with us. We are juggling an enormous amount of unexpected expenses and a feeling of not being settled. Those pool parties, barbecues, and other events that I entertained in my home that was custom made for that lifestyle are on hold since last Memorial Day. (I did try a small party one evening to celebrate my son’s engagement, but it was very crowded and awkward. As much as I try to live life as normally as possible, it is just a “new normal” and not my old life.)

While driving through our old neighborhood, it is a ghost town, with lot after lot for sale and homes abandoned. So many displaced people, young families with children to think about in terms of their stability and safety and security.

Our neighbors were steadfast in returning to the great area known as Meyerland until El Nino weather patterns and historic rainfalls made it obvious the city planners did not provide an infrastructure for repeated historic rain and flooding. That’s not just in our area of town. Subsequent rain storms have proved even more damaging to areas way north of us. Creeks up north that overflowed never had a chance to drain, or dry before downpours and inches of rain came time after time again.

Now there are so many up in the air. Some would like to build high up as we are, but it is not always affordable, particularly for young families that have substantial mortgages on their flooded homes — originally done so that they could be in a wonderful, scenic neighborhood with the best schools.

Some want to raise their homes and are waiting for government grants. If that had been possible for us, I may have considered it as I loved my home more than anything and it is not replaceable. With the fact that it was a sprawling ranch of 4300 square feet in a “U” shape, it was not possible to raise it. Besides, the people waiting are waiting endlessly– as often happens when the government is involved.

I thought about all of us displaced people this Memorial Day, and the day took on a much more solemn feeling than it ever had before. I thought about the large numbers of us, the sheer quantity of people affected by El Nino, and climate change, and living at sea level, and having our ground sinking, as has been offered in a recent explanation. This one year period and the difficulties for so many of us will become a dulled memory eventually, but we will always remember on Memorial Day. It will be forevermore known as the day that changed our lovely neighborhood to an uncertain future.

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