We are Family

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“I am grateful for all of my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties.”

-James Penney

Even though eight months have passed since the “Great Flood” of Baton Rouge 2016, it is apparent we still have to work on getting back to ourselves, emotionally. Experiencing a life altering event such as a flood can rock your world in ways that’s hard to imagine. We woke up on a beautiful Saturday morning on August 13, 2016 and did our normal “lazy: Saturday routine. Because of the bad weather in surrounding areas, the local channels were running round-the-clock weather updates and damage reports on neighboring parishes. When we heard Lafayette was experiencing flooding, I checked to see if any of our friends in that area may be affected. Our friends, Nicole and Keith posted a message that they evacuated from their homes, but were okay and heading to a family member’s home. After some time passed, I called Nicole to check in and she explained how the event had been surreal, but they were okay. I told her I’d be in Lafayette to help on Monday morning after I dropped the kids at school, but everything changed.

The news stations continued to give detailed reports of flooding in areas surrounding Baton Rouge, and eventually, areas in Baton Rouge. Because everything was “normal” around us, Keith went on a store run, in case we were stuck indoors for a few days. Less than 30 minutes from him leaving, my friend and next door neighbor, Christina called and said she was heading to her mom’s house, and if we needed a place to go, we were welcomed to come over there. Figuring she was being overly cautious, I told her I’d keep an eye out on things, but when I looked outside, I could barely see the street for the flooded water. Somewhat panicked, I called Keith and described what I saw, even though the street was dry when he left. Figuring it was drainage overflow, we didn’t panic, and he said he’d be home momentarily.

Fifteen minutes later, the water was creeping toward the sidewalk. I called Keith and gave him an update on the water level, then I began packing an emergency bag for everyone and moved my photo albums and keepsakes as high as I could get them, as a precaution. Keith got home, and he and another neighbor went door-to-door to alert the neighbors of the water level. Once the water reached half-way up the walkway toward our front door, it was time to leave.

On our way out of the subdivision, a Sheriff told us the flooding was a result of drain overflow, that it wasn’t getting any higher, and he expected it to recede withing a few hours. He encouraged us to grab a long dinner then head back, so we took his advice.

We finished dinner and headed back towards the house, but got a call from Christina, who told us the water rose even more, and she had to go back to rescue her husband, who got stuck in the subdivision and couldn’t drive out. Feeling sick, scared, angry, helpless, worried and defeated, we headed to the hotel and spent the next few days there until we moved in with Keith’s mom and brother.

I know family should do things for each other, especially in difficult times, but our family of five moved into my mother-in-law’s house for an unknown amount of time, and she opened her doors without hesitation. Despite accommodating two adults and three kids into their home, we made it work as best as we could. Poor Everett and Ozzie went from a quiet house of two to a noisy house of seven, and they made us feel at home. With the extra people, we worked out morning and evening bathroom schedules, and cooking arrangements were easy because somebody doesn’t cook a whole bunch (shh).

We spent our days balancing the kids and their “new normal” and fighting with the insurance company and mortgage company and their process, which helps no one but themselves. There were days when we were deeply disturbed by the way things were going, but she and Everett were always supportive. It was their love and selflessness that got us through that difficult time, and there’s nothing we can do to repay them for what they did for us in our time of need.

I’m sure there were many days when Everett wanted to come home from work to a quiet house, but instead, he got noise-times three! Either someone was in his room talking about their day, or in his room trying to get him to play a video game or watch a video, but he was always patient and understanding with the kids, and that meant so much. The kids were so happy to be around him, they were excited to make a bee-line to his room to tell him about their day, or to hear about his, or listen to a song he was blasting on his computer. Turns out he’s a pretty fine math tutor also (ask Kris).

My mother-in-law was so great to us. She washed every Hefty bag full of wet flood clothes that we brought to the house. She washed and folded ALL of our clothes the entire time we were there. She’s such a good friend that her friends went out of their way to help us by dropping off food and cleaning supplies often because of their love for her. Not only is she a good friend, but she’s one of the strongest women I know. I admire her and I’m thankful God chose her to be my mother-in-law.

All jokes aside…I bet they were happy when we got outta that house! Don’t get me wrong, I know they didn’t mind us being there, under the circumstances, but they were happy to get their house back, and I don’t blame ’em. I was happy to give them their house back and their peace back, and I am ever grateful for their generosity and love.

Now that we’ve rebuilt our home, we can now work on rebuilding ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. We are appreciative for all of our friends and family, who helped us during that difficult time.  Thank you for the calls, prayers, gifts, monetary gifts, thoughts and help…..THANK YOU. We couldn’t have gotten through this time without you.

Thank you, God for my mother-in-law. Thank you, God for my brother-in-law. Thank you, God for all of my family and friends, who walked with us through this storm. Thank you for your love, your mercy and your grace, and most of all, thank you for the sheet rock my daddy found at Lowe’s before the prices got out of control and people started stealing them off of other people’s palettes, Amen.

Black

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