We decided to walk into the farm today. We left in such a rush of stress that it was turned upside-down and it was just a total mess. I wanted to get in there and do some cleaning up. Plus, we all just wanted to see it again.
It is about a 3/4 mile walk from where we can park. But as we arrived at the barricades we were very excited to find out we could drive in a bit farther, making it about a 1/2 mile walk. That was encouraging.
It was a beautiful day. It was sunny with a slight breeze. Just the right t-shirt and jeans weather. It smelled amazing too. Autumn in the mountains. When we were evacuating the flooding was causing the whole area to reek with a fishy, sewer, musty kind of smell. It was wonderful to smell normal mountain smells on our walk, despite the gross rushing water next to us. The water had receded a lot, but there is still way more than normal and it is all muddy and full of trash and sewage and people belongings.
When we arrived, my spirits soared. It felt so great to be back at our home on such a beautiful autumn day.
When we left it was so fast, and stressful, and raining that it made the whole place feel dark and anxious. Walking up the hill in the sunlight and seeing the farm looking so nice and peaceful gave me goose bumps.
As we walked in the house I was overwhelmed with the mess. Our house is normally a shoes-off place. We have very light-colored beige carpet. During the evac people were in and out in a hurry with muddy shoes. The floor had dried mud prints all over and there was stuff strewn all over the place. It definitely looked like someone had packed up and left in a hurry. It didn’t feel like our house. I always keep a very clean house and it felt like something very bad had happened at our house.
As if on-cue my daughters started bawling hysterically. We all hugged and I comforted them. They haven’t cried much during this and I have been expecting something to bring it out in them at some point. Apparently that something was a trip back to the house. They both kept saying “I didn’t know how much I missed the house until we got here!” and “I don’t want to leave, can we please stay!?” I, of course, began crying with them, and the warmth we felt outside melted into a puddle of despair.
After a bit of crying and comforting each other the kids went off to their rooms to decide if there was anything they wanted to bring out with them. They had very little time and very little choices of their own when we were evacuated. I wanted them to be able to choose some things that were important to them to take out.
Meanwhile, I started cleaning. I went into the living room first. Where I saw this:
Why is this special? Because when we left the house this plant was dead. There was no green showing above the dirt. I thought it was totally dead, but hadn’t gotten the container out of the house yet. And four days later it looks like this.
It gave me hope. We will bounce back from this and be sprouting new leaves in no time. Just like this plant. We will look back and it will all just be a traumatic memory. But we will be stronger because of it.
We are SO much better off than many people in this tragedy. We are alive, we still have a house to go back to someday, and we lived through the event safe and dry. There are so many stories of people who are missing one, two or all three of the things I listed above. People who watched their houses (and even other people) wash away in the flood from up on a mountainside, and then had to camp there for days without any supplies, waiting for rescue.
There are still people trapped. We are on day 7 of this horrible disaster and there are still people trapped and stranded. I have been disappointed to hear from friends and family outside of our area that the news is not reporting what is going on accurately. Yes, some people are refusing to leave, but that is the minority, NOT the majority. The majority is still waiting to be saved. The majority still view the helicopter pilots as heroes. But that is not what is being reported.
Based on the stories I have heard from people in town that watched others die in the flood waters the death toll is definitely higher than they are reporting, but the authorities just can’t confirm it yet because so much is still unknown about the canyons and isolated mountain communities.
This has been traumatic for our family, that is for sure. But we are so much better off than so many people. It is hard to process both my feelings of loss as well as my sympathy for others. I think this is something like survivor’s guilt.
A good friend of mine is still unaccounted for. Her and her husband. They live in an isolated area. They might be fine and dandy at their house with plenty to eat and drink just waiting for evacuation. That is what I hope. This woman came alongside me ten years ago after my first child was born and has been mentoring me as a wife and mother and Christian woman ever since then. We have talked or gotten together at least once a week for ten years. If she had been evacuated already I feel like she would have called me by now for sure. There are phones at the evacuation centers. And my phone is working. I continue to pray for them and remember that they are in God’s hands, wherever they are.
All we can do is continue to have faith and hope.