Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Clean-Up

I arrived in my hometown at 3am yesterday morning, woke up around 7:30am and worked in my mom's yard until around 7pm. There is still a HUGE tree down in the backyard, but it's tucked behind the barn and isn't so bad. My uncle and cousin came out to help with the clean up. We hauled large limbs with rope and the fourwheeler. It was hardwork but still a lot of fun. We talked, joked and all got sunburnt together. I have cuts and scrapes all over.

That night we fired up the grill and had about a dozen people milling around the house, my mom is the only on in the extended family that still has power. My dad's mom had 4ft of flooding on her lower level where his sister was staying. (My aunt lost everything) They showed up to get some food and take a shower. The pained expressions on their faces was deeply creased in and you could tell they were distracted by what was waiting at home for them once they left my mother's powered, well-fed home.

The feast was supplied by the contents of my sister's fridge and freezer that is slowly going bad in coolers on the patio. My mom's fridge is stuffed to the brim, trying to save anything we can. I'm so well fed I can barely move. Out of the 3 different meat versions of burgers, chicken breasts and a rather large pork loin we grilled there was only one burger and a couple slices of pork loin left. Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to chow down in an air conditioned enviroment and my sister was happy that the food didn't end up in the trash. The local fire dept is giving away bags of ice and bottled water. We're using bottled water to make coffee, freezing them to keep the food in the cooler from spoiling and drinking them with gusto as we haul peices of nature out of our way.

I saw my mom mom's house for the first time today. It is devastating and she still has her house. So many have lost much more than she has, and it's still very painful to see. My grandmother has lost a barn and a couple 100yro+ trees... but we're all very grateful they fell away from the house and no one was hurt. I've only been as far as my parent's house and this entire neighborhood is trashed, there is a tree in someone's house 3 doors down, there are trees cut in the middle so you can travel on the road. There is a tree against the church I grew up in and downed powerlines everywhere. There is a group of five electrical vehicles going around working as a really large group to pushed erect the leaning powerlines and reconnect/mend the fallen lines.

My middle school is closed. Done. Finished. The flooding was too bad, they are saying if it does open it may be well after christmas due to repairs and replacing the floors and walls. It has to be gutted. (Everyone is 80% sure it will be condemned and have to be knocked over) Teachers are being shifted or losing their positions, they are splitting up the grades amongst the primary, highschool and elementry school buildings. There is absolutely no school for anyone until next tuesday. In the district I went to school in there are people who now have foundations of their houses and nothing else. They lost more than the contents of their fridge and a couple trees, they lost everything they've ever worked for.

Like I said, I have not gone that far in the county but just seeing my childhood neighborhood gives me an idea of how terrible it is farther down in the county. We've pulled together as a family and a community. My uncle who helped us clear my mom's yard up is being pulled in so many directions and is trying to handle the guilt of not being able to help everyone who asks him. His sidejob is lawncare and right now everyone wants his attention whenever possible. As we stood in my grandmother's yard, jagged tree limbs towering over us he spoke of feeling the weight of not being able to help everyone who has been asking him... he felt like he wasn't helping anyone at all. He didn't count cleaning up the yards of his family as help... that was just a given. Being able to clean up other people's yards, that was helping.

I know that deeper in the county will be a slow recovery but they will recover. I feel for them and hope them the best.... I also wish I had more than just words of encouragement for all of them.

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