Sunday, June 22, 2008

A strange anniversary

Long-time readers may recall that I am an ACoND: an adult child of a natural disaster. (I made that acronym up; someday I will write a self-help book and become the Dr. Phil of natural disasters. Except I won't be a mustachioed, cliche-spouting arsehole.). Thirty-six years ago tomorrow, the Susquehanna River flooded its banks, and a bazillion gallons of muddy water came gushing over the top of the nearly-forty-foot high levies. I remember the way, all that spring, it seemed to rain day after day, without end. I remember my mom taking us for a walk on top of the levy near my house and seeing the water so high, so close, you could almost touch it. I remember my brother and mother trying to put valuables up in the attic, the highest spot in the house, thinking that at most, we'd get water in the basement. I remember that surreal vigil the night the water was at its highest, my mom telling me to go to sleep while I was painfully aware that something was going on that had to do with "cresting" and it wasn't good. I remember the police cars driving through the neighborhood at two in the morning, shouting through megaphones: "Evacuate immediately!" I remember getting in the car after that, and driving to my grandmom's house, which sat on a higher part of the city, a neighborhood too far away and too elevated to be subject to flooding. I remember looking out the back window, wondering if I was going to see a tide of water rushing after the car. (I didn't.)

Our family lost everything except the bare-bones structure of the house. We lived in a HUD trailer for the better part of a year, while my parents and whatever contractors they could scare up rehabbed our house. It took my parents years to recover from the financial blow.

So when I see images from the Midwest of flooding, and people being rescued in boats, and sandbagging efforts to shore up levies, it hits me hard.

I know money's tight for most of us, and you have a lot of demands on your discretionary funds, but if the spirit moves you, maybe you can spare a couple of bucks for the flood victims in Iowa and other states. Here's the Red Cross link. If you're an animal lover, you might want to consider the Humane Society, which has sent crisis response teams to rescue stranded pets.

I hope none of you ever have to celebrate a similar anniversary.

7 comments:

puffthemagicrabbit said...

Those images of disasters that we see or experience when we're younger are the hardest ones to shake, and you do feel it very deeply when you're reminded. Thanks for the links.

Adelle said...

Thank you for reminding me to donate to the Humane Society. I recently donated to the Salvation Army for this relief fund, and I have no idea how I could have forgotten the animals as well.

Paul said...

Thank you for those links, and for those memories.

I also remember that flood, and growing up about 20 miles north of Scranton and living about 100 feet above the Tunkhannock Creek. We were so fortunate to have been virtually unscathed compared to some (you and your family). It was such a scarey event for all, and only someone who has lived through something like that can understand what those in the Midwest are going through.

Stacey said...

Sadly, I too am a ACoND. It sounds like the same disaster. However, I was just being conceived when the hurricane came through. :D My parents lived on a hill and having nothing but booze to drink for several days and being unable to go anywhere resulted in me 9 months later. They almost named me Agnes. o.O

Bridget said...

This was such a good idea, to remind us to do what we can. As the survivor of way too many start-again-from-scratch events, I know that even the tiniest amount helps!

EJ said...

My daughter left for Iowa City for a summer internship at the University of Iowa on Memorial Day. To make a long story short, she was in 3 different dorms because of the flooding within 2 weeks. She spent most of her evenings sandbagging. Then she got evacuated about 10 days ago. Lucky for her, many of the other kids in the program lived in the midwest (we're in NJ) within a few hours driving time of the campus. A girl from West Des Moines, whose family's home was not in danger took Rachel home with her. Yesterday they had to leave to go to a family wedding and dropped Rachel back in Iowa City but the dorms are still not habitable. She is staying with the professor with whom she is doing the internship, hoping to get back in a 4th dorm by mid-week. Every time I see the photos of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City I feel like crying. How utterly awful. Rachel has sent a lot of photos of them sandbagging and the water levels. Makes you want to count your blessings.

Phro5gg said...

Thank you for sharing your story. For so many people, natural disasters are a just a soundbyte on the news. The region I live in is prone to flooding and while I leave not been personally affected, I have seen friends and neighbors suffer. Great idea to add the links, espacially to remember animals!