Post Flood and Displaced, The Adventure Through Hell for So Many in Houston
The above photo of course is not a result of the Hurricane winds or even a tornado.
It is the result of home flooding. My neighborhood looks like this right now:
Nothing but rubble from damaged homes as far as the eye can see.
And it is not just in our neighborhood, or even our area. Friends that live 20-30 minutes from us also flooded, much of the city of Houston flooded and not just our unlucky neighborhood, thanks to the “dirty side” of the Hurricane’s rains that brought 50 inches to our city in a short period of time. Houston Business Journal estimates that 127,600 single family homes flooded like this.
To see all the destroyed remnants of wonderful people’s lives sitting curbside is depressing, even if I wasn’t affected house-wise this time. My heart and brain doesn’t even register that. (Our garage flooded and we lost some photos and other sentimental things stored too low but that was all. We built a new higher up structure after we flooded two years ago.)
There are even things like flooded pianos out on the curbs. (Oh and the scavengers are having a field day – it took one hot minute for our flooded bikes to be carted off by a scavenger.)
Seeing the above images day in and day out is heartbreaking, but not nearly as heartbreaking as talking to my affected friends and neighbors going through the horror of their homes being decimated by a flood event.
I have already been through this myself, and called it an Adventure from Hell. I described my brain, my emotions, my heartbreak, my fatigue, my being involved in details 24/7 in a series of blogs I published both on my site, and on the Huffington Post. I am linking them here at the end of this blog, for all to read, because having someone who understands how devastating this is, is the best kind of tonic for many people.
In fact, several months after I was finished writing my flood blogs, a woman at an event found out who I was, and ran up to me to tell me I saved her life with my flood blogs and she gave me a huge hug. Just knowing that someone else was having the same experience and emotions, saved her from thinking she had gone crazy. (My Huff Post editor, now gone to another publication, as have I, told me the blogs should win a Pulitzer, because she so admired them for the raw emotion packed in them.)
So if you are among the flooded, please spend any spare time READING them in the hopes they help you through this difficult time.
Back to the blog, I am tending to friends as fast as I can, covering as many as I can because this affected so many people in so many areas. I was telling a friend that I am an emotional basket-case even though I am not among them, because I am so devastated for everyone affected.
My synagogue and two other synagogues were badly flooded, and we will have our high holiday services at Joel Osteen’s big gigunda church this year. Our beloved JCC flooded as did many schools. Many small businesses, favorite restaurants flooded. It is just heartbreaking even for people not personally putting their things out on the curb.
One of my dear friends, who I was very worried about, sent me this photo of her as the water came pouring into her home. She is sitting on her bed in denial, chatting on the phone surrounded by her pets as the murky waters rise around her.
Note that she and her family along with others on her street in one story houses had to break into an unoccupied two story house by breaking a window. They all stayed there until the 3 feet of water receded about 30 hours later. Many people in one story “ranch” style homes had to find higher ground at the last minute and everyone with a two story home was hosting others. She is doing as well as can be expected now that they found a rental home.
NOTE: The boom in auto sales (so many totaled flooded out cars!) mattress sales, furniture sales, apartment rentals, housing rentals, has really stimulated the economy for all the wrong reasons. If I could only count all the mattresses curbside, those mattress retailers are making a fortune!
Where is everyone now that the water is long receded, and homes are mostly gutted out? They are displaced, a very dirty word, as I experienced it myself and it is an uncomfortable way to be. In other words, if they were lucky enough to find an unflooded relative, or rental home or apartment, they moved there, but their belongings were all boxed up after the wet things were discarded. No one knows where anything is, and it is all in mystery boxes that I described in one of my blogs. (Volunteers from all over came and helped pack everyone up – THANK YOU HELPING HANDS, Chabad, Mormons etc.)
They are figuring out what to do next. Fix up? Risk flooding again since the infrastructure of Houston did not prepare for these monster weather events? Abandon their homes and neighborhoods they love? Part of the displacement discomfort is the amount of confusion over what will come next. The brains are on overload at the moment, aside from being sleepless, emotionally and physically exhausted. (Also addressed in one of my blogs.)
So the many displaced are just hanging in day by day in utter confusion. Many have not even had insurance adjusters or FEMA visit just yet.
A few people I have been helping told me that they didn’t really “get it” or understand what I went through at the time I went through it because it didn’t affect them. It is hard to understand unless you have lived though it. And that’s why I am here for everyone possible, to tell them I understand every single emotion, every angry outburst, every fatigued and depressed moment.
When you see photos of the decimated Virgin Islands and other tropical locales thanks to ANOTHER hurricane, Hurricane Irma, understand that much of Houston looks like that too. It will take years to recover from an event of this magnitude.
I tell my friends, it is one day at a time, and it is a journey, through a lot of emotions. One step in front of the other and one day at a time, is the only way to operate.
And now for links to all the blogs. I hope this blog and any others linked below helps somewhat. If it helps just one other person, it will be worth it, so please share.
This is why I grieve so hard. THIS ONE IS A MUST READ