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Raw Feelings

When we prick our finger, when we scrape our knee, when we experience a bump in the night and see our bruise in the morning. The evidence of the wounds are visible to us, to others.

But when we experience loss, what we feel is not visible to the others. When our property is damaged by a flood or repeating floods to the extent it is determined to be no longer inhabitable and can no longer be permitted to rebuild, our visible proof of our existence in that place is removed. Our memories of the lives lived there will be viable only in our minds and the memories of our family because many of our treasured photographs will have long been lost to the rancid waters that ruined them.

Trauma is not always addressed in this country. It is invisible, causing the victims no limp, no clues to others of the horror or suffering individuals may have experienced and carry with them as they walk or muddle through the chores of daily living.

For a community that has experienced a disaster, or repetitive disasters I believe we can have a group experienced trauma. I would venture to say a community and her members can experience PTSD episodes when certain triggers occur. For Miami and her surrounding out of city limits neighbors in "hoods" not incorporated into the city and those with the rural lifestyles associated with "country living" some of the triggers of PTSD may begin with a simple banner running across the bottom of the TV screen while watching their favorite comedy programs. Another is the radar in a weather report indicating rain storms approaching. The simple sound of the first raindrops hitting the roof in the night can wake a person with dread and removes the possibility of returning to restful sleep. The other trigger is the term "Flood Watch" announced via media sources. And the alarm on the cell phones blaring the warning. And who would have ever thought that could be a thing?

The numbers with the predicted crest on the Neosho and the timing of that crest trigger episodes of PTSD, but also trigger action. The plans are set, maybe not in writing, or posted on the walls of the kitchen by the backdoor. People kickstart themselves into action to save what they know will be most of risk

Curbs and driveways, maybe partial sidewalks are all that remain from whole neighborhoods or the seemingly random vacant lots lying as they do between still standing homes, it is only when you step back to view the block you can notice the land was not flat where those missing homes were actually built, as the land lays and with the ease of a gentle rolling landscape that allows our rains to flow to the river through millennium.

A city has a great deal of responsibility to keep watch over her citizens and one of these respected duties requires the city to issue permits to build to new developments or in the case after a flood, they take on the role of decider of the future of standing structures to allow a re-build or to take it down as no longer habitable. If we look back at past decisions of housing that was allowed to build close to or in old established floodplains, we can overlook or accept those decisions made back then. They could not have known the lake and the river would silt in and push backwater in on those homes. We know that can and has happened now. We know that more will come because Kansas is still sending her plowed ground down and into our river and filling up our lake. Tar Creek is sending down more of the chat piles resting in her floodplain mixing as it does into the lake bed and causing those fish advisories for her lead to continue for the last 2 decades. And we all know the climate is changing because the rains are more intense and the states west of us are in an unending drought from lack of rain.

These raw feelings also include anger. This is aimed at politicians past and present, aimed at regulators, decision-makers, to God, herself. But there is plenty of rage at mistreatment, the unfair delay of dealing with past wrongs over the agencies with power during a flood. These are face-less entities, but those feeling this rage are not face-less. These are our neighbors, our friends, the people on the pew in church. These are rows of wronged people who long to be treated with respect and helped.

There is a cost to flooding that is not measured by dollars and wealth, but in loss of dignity loss of heirlooms and the general loss of peace of mind and trust in the way the world is and how life should be lived.

Value yourself and know that your voices should be heard. The silence is deafening around here. The injustice so real but having lived it for these decades I have learned neither I or any single agency can read your minds. What lays in there, those feelings you have carried are real and yours to share and the times have come.

There are some actions you can take, you can stand and be heard, you can sign our WE ARE NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE cards and you can send an email or sign a letter you can mail a postcard you can wear a button you can demand clean water that will not FLOOD YOU. You and your feelings matter.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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