at the "I Flood I Vote Rally" saying this flooding must STOP.
Each one had a story, and as a community we need to remember to collect this part of the history of this place. The traumatic times in our lives stay with us, like those snow globes, pick them up, shake them and the snow falls again. That's what its like when a flood survivor begins to speak. It is like they are there again, seeing the slow motion disaster a flood has been described to be. They can name the people who were there, the time it took to load up what could be loaded in the last remaining truck and the barely making it through the water before it was impassible. Or what was left behind as you and your grandchildren leave home for the last time with a few possessions as they load up on the rescue boat. Never to return. Leaving all lost treasures a child can amass as well as the lifelong treasured memories their grandmother can never hold close again.
We can shed a tear. I do, just recalling the latest, freshest stories heard this week. One woman told me "it's like no one cares anymore -- like this is the norm, but this is not normal." I know this not normal, because there are countless towns around that never have a single person flood. Whole towns do not know to worry when the rain begins to fall.
But there are people who are not going to take it anymore. I know that because they signed their name to it this week at the first ever I FLOOD ~ I VOTE RALLY, but they left a lot more room so you can add your name too.
A flood is a dirty deal. Dirty water. Catastrophic losses. Personal, private losses.
Stressors to any family and their budget, their plans for a weekend, or the summer, or the birthday they spend in a shelter or sequester in a motel after the Red Cross shelter closes.
Ever so slowly lives finally begin to start over.
When you start over, it means the little things, too. Like paperclips and safety pins, starting a home with nothing, not a thing. No junk drawer in the kitchen as a "go to." When you are eleven and know you are going to start your own business rebuilding bicycles and have your collection covered with water and mud for weeks, the start is over before it ever begins.
One elderly woman said Catholic Charities just wondered if she and her family still had any unmet needs. Yes, they needed beds, after sleeping on the floor on mats for the last seven months. Unmet needs. She answered that question and in 2 days, the truck came with beds, mattress and bedsprings AND all the bedding for them, brought them in and SET THEM UP.
Another woman who is just moving back into her home this week, is going to deal with the mess of setting up house again and then she is going to "come up fighting."
Floods can de-neighbor neighborhoods when the Red Tagged homes are torn down, creating green space with useless sidewalks. Floods can ruin the economy of a town for a time and challenge businesses with hard decisions. Not all the decisions are made yet, as we wait to see how high the next flood will be, and when it might come. But it always starts with rain and rain seems to keep coming. Our ground is already saturated before this spring's rains.
You know why LEAD Agency put up that billboard and how we had to pull us together and begin with the first I FLOOD ~ I VOTE RALLY. I can't take it anymore either. It was suggested we should be marching down Main Street to rally, but the retired teacher said no, we should go to the Capitol to rally!
We are open to your ideas and we are open to listen to your stories. What has happened to you, how did flooding affect you, your family, your way of life? Pull up a chair on the front porch at the LEAD Agency, bring your stories and let's organize that next rally.
Our Senator needs to know us, needs to hear your stories, bring your friends, there is always room in the front yard, ours or your own. People came to our rally who had never stood out on a street to let the world know how they felt about anything. It has been such a private thing, so many secret ways we hide our tragedies, so as not to burden others, who may have been suffering themselves, or as we know were mobilized to help a family member or had a coach who called them into service to help someone they had never met before.
We can get lost and isolated, but we can gather and be stronger together and our voices heard on local TV and our stories out on Oklahoma City's Journal Record or in the town of Shawnee's newspaper. Get that? There is more to say and we are just getting started.
What'd you say? "I can't take it anymore."
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim