There are still parts of Miami subject to flooding, but there is flooding and then there is flooding.
This week it rained at my house in sheets of rain and by doing so began sending loads of rain onto my screened in porch. Out of a sense of desperation, to keep water from entering my house, I began baling water out at the same time and enlisted help to sweep repeatedly with a broom simply sweeping rainwater back through the doorway. I could only envision what my friends and their neighbors must have tried to hold the waters back from entering their homes time after time.
He and other families in his neighborhood were familiar to me, because I had been in that neighborhood and seen it being inundated with flood water, then seen it as the waters receded finding their homes in sad shape. I am really pleased that many of his formerly flooded neighbors had been bought out and their homes demolished to keep other families from EVER moving back in. What an honorable thing to do for the residents, to give them a way to start over on higher ground. These buyouts didn't get much attention compared to the buyouts of homes in Picher and Cardin, but all these families left precious memories and contaminated homes to start over.
This summer he and several others rode a 1,000 mile bike ride. Each summer this ride retraces the steps our Cherokee ancestors who were forced away from their homelands. They had to start over in a land new to them after one/fourth of the tribe perished along the way due to the conditions they had to endure.
He waits now for the notice to come for his family to be allowed to be removed from the home they live but must watch and listen for the rains as they come and wonder if water will force them to endure removal by flood. Just as his neighbors to the north waited and wondered if their world would collapse beneath them as they waited for approval to move.
The Cherokee Trail of Tears riders moved me to tears this year as never before. I watched them daily on Facebook as they traveled the 1,000 miles to reach Tahlequah, OK across the same route many of our ancestors took in 1839. There was said to have been a drought that year so when the wild rhododendrons were blooming, their blossoms fell along the trail, making it look like blood, a sign predicting death to come.
I didn't think I would get to meet any of the riders this year. I missed the Cherokee National Holiday, and the parade that surely would have brought them all back together again; then there I was talking to this young man who so very humbly told me he had been able to be one of the riders this year.
This NEO student and Rachel Lloyd spoke about AICE students volunteering at the Tar Creek Conference. After the conference is over they may walk with me in that neighborhood knocking on doors of homes which could have been flooded with Tar Creek or yards where it had creeped out of its banks. We can alert the owners to call EPA to have their yards sampled for lead since each day 13 tons of heavy metals flow down it to Grand Lake. Some metals from Tar Creek could be deposited in yards along the way during floods. We are downstream people after all. Water may not cause another family to be removed. But contaminated yards can be removed to better protect children and grandchildren.
NEO Phi Theta Kappa student advisors are encouraging their students to volunteer with the LEAD Agency Conference. You can learn about yard removal, contaminants in Tar Creek, water quality in Grand Lake and more at the 17th National Environmental Tar Creek Conference September 29 & 30. Register Early by calling 918-542-9399 and we will have your conference materials ready for you.