I know you probably don’t want to hear it, but I am sick of rain! I used to love a good thunderstorm, but man oh man, has global warming really fucked that up for me! I live in a rural area. There are streams and ponds, rivers and lakes, and they are all just teetering at the banks edge this week!
Flooding used to be a very minor concern in our area. Every 10 years or more, we’d get devastating floods in some areas, but in the last 4 years alone, I’ve experienced more major or historical flooding in our area, than the other 27 years of my life! Sure, you can move, if you can afford to, but a lot of the people effected, don’t have the means to do so. It’s the most frustrating thing on the planet, when you are trying to help out families in need, that have no other choice but return to their mold infested, dilapidated residence, and there are people lurking in the dark edges of the internet waiting to pounce.
I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years, but possibly the biggest one, is not to judge people. I personally, don’t know what landed a number of families in areas that are prone to flooding. I don’t know what stipulations would be involved should they just pack up their things and never look back.
A lot of families have done that in the last 5 years. A lot of them paid to break a lease, or relocated jobs, just to find a safer place for their families, but some of them, can’t afford that luxury. Sounds weird to call something like avoiding death a luxury, but the unfortunate truth to things of this nature is just that. It’s a luxury.
For me, learning to monitor flood gauges for my mom and sister, who live on the Big River just out side of St. Louis, has been a feat in its own right. The placement of the water gauges don’t make a whole lot of since, and more often than not, the recorded numbers, don’t match the experience that the residence have had, time and time again. For instance, the most recent flood on record, in December of 2015, was supposedly lower than the flood of 2008, which was the most significant flood prior to that. However, the damage in 2015, far exceeded the height of damage in their residence in 2008.
After the flood of 2015, I set up a GoFundMe for my family to help them repair their home. In 2008, we had some organizational help, but it simply wasn’t enough, and the home was just barely finished before it flooding again in 2015. At this time, there was a full on ATTACK on my family. People were commenting about how much time they had to leave the home. How much warning they were given by local and state authorities. They were shamed for living in the home for so long, and returning to it after the flood in 2008.
I don’t want to get on a soapbox here, but I am going to.
This home was inherited or paid for by my grandparents, after they decided to step away from the home rental business, so that my parents, who were struggling after a devastating work related injury that perminantly injured my step dad’s back, making it difficult for him to live, let alone work, took away their primary source of income. The home is paid off. The property builds value over the years.
At the time of his accident, they were business owners, and my mom worked 2 other full time jobs, to make sure myself and my 5 siblings had everything we could possible want. We weren’t floating on pillows of money, but as a child, I would have never known how close we were to a breaking point, financially. My parents were smart. In 2005, I moved away for college, and the accident happened shortly there after. By 2007, I was heading home to help my mom take care of the family, and to a new river house.
At the time, this was a flood plane, sure, but in the 15 or 20 years that our family had owned this home, it had come close to flooding inside the home only 1 time, and had actually reached inside the “flood room” only one other time. 1 inch of water was all the damage, and the room is designed to take up to 6 inches of water, with only concrete to clean internally, and some debris and mud on the actual property itself. We never thought in a million years, that in the 12 years they’ve resided there, it would flood 5 times. Twice about 6 ft into the first floor, and 1 time, 3 inches into the second.
What’ I’m trying to do here, is paint a picture. A picture of a family, with 5 children, 2 entering college age, 1 that’s still outside of school age completely, and requires daily care. A family where the father is in pain daily and it’s all he can do to lift his head when he wakes up, and a mother who’s worked 3 jobs most of her life, just to support the hopes and dreams of her children. A family who doesn’t have the means to move, even if they were desperate.
Sure, did I expect SOME hate from the GoFundMe? Yes! But did I expect people who have known my family, and how hard they have worked, to judge them based on their first and only time asking for help during a crisis that effected just about everyone in the state? NO!
The idea that we had warning, when they didn’t even get the final numbers right is completely absurd.
Beyond ALL OF THAT, as a society, we need to normalize asking for help. Any kind of help, really! If you are struggling with addiction, you should be able to ask for help. If you are struggling with finances, you should be able to ask for help. If you are struggling with mental illness, you should be able to ask for help. If you are sick, disabled, or simply just having a tough time, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO ASK FOR HELP. Physical help, emotional help, financial help, should be available. We pay WAY too much into our government in taxes, not to receive HELP!
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help be NORMALIZED, not demonized.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING DOWN ON YOUR LUCK.
Oh, and for those who think that we had “enough warning”, do you honestly think that we would have left our dogs, and our STEP DAD, who later had to be rescued off the ROOF of our home, if we had “enough notice?”
Thanks for coming to my TED TALK. Ask for help!