Updated: Mar 23
I knew it would be hard.
The questions on the Flood Survey need to be answered but the heartache and disgust of what past floods have left behind here are heavy.
Whole neighborhoods have felt these losses and those neighbors in some cases don't even have each other anymore. Their homes no longer habitable are gone. All those front porches removed, leaving behind front sidewalks to nothing.
This community has experienced the force of a tornado many times without the wind. Just the destruction of what water can accomplish.
And the word destruction caused me to re-listen to Bob Dylan's A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall. There is a line I hadn't taken time to hear when he declares he will go out before the rain starts falling and go "where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters" and I wonder about the poison flooding our water that we have not fully considered until now.
The reality of what has happened, noting the years and the costs flood through answers the brave souls who have agreed to complete the Flood Survey provide.
The knock on your door is coming. Please be gracious and be open to the experience but know your answers will provide data this city has never had the heart to ask for before. But the City is a living being too. And has decided not to curl up and wait for the next high water event. The City is using all means to save itself and by doing so, save you and your property from sure to come disaster.
We cannot stop the rain, but now that we have started knocking on doors, we cannot stop listening and recording your answers and listening to the frightful moments you are reliving with us.
We understand we are asking hard questions and those who have been answering are proving just how hard they are.
A question at the end is asking each if you would want to volunteer to help LEAD in our work. A reply that is helping is for you to contact one other person and alert them of the urgent need for their time in answering the survey. Do connect us to someone you know. Grease, ease our way to another open door.
These pages of questions may be cathartic. When I was little, well really since I am still not tall, when I was young and felt nauseous, I always felt better after I "threw-up." As a school counselor all those years, I also learned that spoken words, sometimes words long unspoken can hide inside us and make us linger and harbor feelings that we stuff way down. But once spoken, free us and allow us to breathe again.
Last week just before the only holiday devoted now to foods and the joy of overeating them, our small team approached the last dam we had learned had been constructed on Tar Creek. We brought our tools to help pry the construction apart. The heavy stones had been laid and layered with sticks and soil and shored together with the smaller stones and braced with the large flat sheets of rock that must have been pulled from the bottom of the creek's bed. We were methodical. We went to the middle and worked both ways to allow water to flow ever more freely. The cloudless sky gave a glow to our work that slowly began to fade as the hours passed. There was more to do, but we had cleared the way for your Tar Creek to pass through here more easily on her way to load our Grand Lake with ever more heavy metal sediments.
There is no need to flood ourselves, right? Let's keep a watch on this creek and report any dams you see constructed. You don't want to allow that bad water from the chat piles and the deep wounds the mining caused the aquifer, to be refrained from passing through and more quickly backup and find your property.
That would be bad enough, but do not allow the work done by these thoughtless ones to stop it and let it fester as it blends with the properly attained waste water permit Commerce has to discharge into her adding dangerous bacteria, too.
It was hard work to deconstruct yet another dam. But it was only discovered because the eyes on the creek, the Man on the Log noticed and we were alerted. We would still be waiting for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board's referral to the Army Corps of Engineers who then would turn the responsibility over to the keeper the Grand River Dam Authority to manage it for you. Keep watching. Keep calling. Say something.
When we walked away that afternoon, I turned changed out of my rainboots and turned my mud covered vest inside-out and put it back on and knocked on another door.
The urgency is real. Your answers are too.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim