Friday, September 25, 2009

For the Love of Barbara

This was my aunt Barbo's house on Wednesday. Flooded. And this isn't even as high as it got. You can see from the brick that it got even higher than it was when this picture was made. It flooded in the front. It flooded in the back. It flooded on the sides. Literally, it looked like her house was sitting in the middle of the Yellow River. And for the past few days it was.

And here is her house yesterday, Thursday. The water was gone in the front. The sides went down gradually throughout the day. The back still looked like a rushing river.

Before this happened, I had never been inside a flooded house. I've seen images of such on TV lots of times. On TV you see things scattered about and think to yourself, wow, they sure did keep their things in strange places. But unfortunately now that I've become more familiar with flooding, I know that things float throughout the house. My uncle Jerry found a bag of onions in the laundry room. Guess they floated from the kitchen to the laundry room. Anything that wasn't held down by something heavy floated.

If y'all have read my blog long enough, you know that I'm a bit of a priss. I'd rather stay at a resort than camp. I'd rather pay someone to clean my house than clean it myself and Jeff and I work hard so that I can do that. I'd rather pay someone to wash and clean inside my car than do it myself. Thank goodness for $12 car washes. Basically, what it comes down to is I don't like to get my hands dirty. Who does, right? I think I'm just a little over the top in that aspect.
But. . . I can work like a dog when I have to.

(Photo courtesy of Auntie T)
(Suz, in her court reporting dress, chore
(boots, and me.)

And yesterday I did. We all did. Barbo's house had a layer of mud all over everything that was within reach of the water. It was a different kind of mud though. The kind that a simple rinse with the hose doesn't touch. No, after something has been touched by a flooding river, it's gonna need scrubbing with soap and water and a good-bristled brush. It's almost like a silt-like film. You can see in the picture above a vacuum cleaner and you can see the film I'm talking about. She had hardwood floors throughout her house. After they were cleaned of the mud, you'd go back a few hours later and they had dried with that darn dusty film on them.

We cleaned out her pantry. We cleaned out her bathroom cabinets. And by cleaned out, I mean threw away. She will have to start over fresh and clean. Nothing -- or very little -- left in the lower cabinets could be saved. She had a box of Minute Rice that got so wet that it looked like boiled rice. She enjoys making relishes and pickles and most any kind of canning. The sealed Mason jars with her precious relish and pickles were covered with that muddy film.

Her mattresses and box springs were ruined. As were the comforter and bedskirt that was on the bed. Clothes in the dresser are likely ruined. Things soaked from the bottom up. If it got wet on the bottom, it seeped to the top.

It washed her deck completely off the back of her house. It lies in ruins up against a fence past the gas grill that was on the deck. She had a swingset for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to play on when they came for a visit. I didn't see it. I'm not sure where it ended up. Tomato plants battered and torn, but still holding on to their precious tomatoes. Outdoor potted plants that may never need watering again. A small pond in their front yard that held goldfish, now full of river water. The goldfish probably off to sea. Small fish in a big ocean. A yard that squishes when you walk in it. Pictures that are stuck together because they are so wet. A class of '58 yearbook saturated. A retirement certificate soaked.

So many things that may never be useful again. Things that she and Jerry had worked for. Worked hard for. The hot water heater. The furnace that is under the house likely in knee-deep water. The washer and dryer. The refrigerator.

My aunt is a simple thing. She doesn't ask for much, nothing really. She's healthy, except she doesn't have good use of her legs and feet. Her life's pleasure is her family. And her house. The house that is now covered in mud and water. To her a great day would be sitting at her kitchen table that she loved, coffee in hand and watching birds at the many feeders she had set up in her backyard. Thankfully, the table looks to be salvageable. The bird feeders not so much.

It is still early in the cleanup process. It will take weeks. Maybe months for the house to dry out completely. I'm praying for assistance to come her way. I've been hearing of businesses taking donations for flood victims. I hope she's not forgotten. She doesn't live in an area where there were masses of homes flooded. Hers sits alone near the banks of the Yellow River.

We, her family, will do all we can. We will work to exhaustion as we did yesterday. We will give money as we can. And we do it for our beloved aunt and sister who would gladly give you her only shirt and her very last dime if you needed it.

Only an aunt like her would hold onto these pictures for decades.

Top left is Crystal and me in 1971. In the middle is Auntie Theresa and Sonia, Barbo's oldest daughter. Top right is my baby sister, Suz. Bottom left Suz's birth picture. In the middle, mwah, in fifth grade. Bottom right, me again in about second grade. She gave me these pictures yesterday. They are still wet this morning.
Pray for my sweet aunt. Pray for us because the cleaning up is such hard, hard work. But we will do it. And we'll do it all for the love of Barbara.
Till tomorrow~ Live, love, laugh. And pray.


Nana said...

Oh my goodness!!!!

I saw this happening on the news and actually wondered about you. I feel so badly for you aunt. I know she is in good hands w/ you and your family there, but sheesh. What a mess.

All you CAN do is live, love, laugh. And PRAY. Well and clean like a dog.

clif, somer, vivian & bauer said...

it has taken several months, but i just wanted to personally thank you for taking the time to pray for our vivian. she has made a full recovery, thanks to the love and kindness of strangers like yourself, and their many prayers. :) feel free to check in on us at anytime and see for yourself! god bless...

Theresa said...

What an extremely wonderful, heartfelt post! All true, every last word and I couldn't have said it better myself:) I love you and appreciate all the hard work you did yesterday and today. I did think about it several times, knowing the dirty work wasn't your cup of tea... but it didn't stop you. We should be able to get the fans on soon, power has been ok'd. Thanks again for handling the electrician for us. Have a restful evening:)

Cindy Lou said...

Love the post! It was all sooo true! Power is now on and fans and everything is up and running getting it even more dried out! Almost all of the dishes are washed and things are really pulling together! Thanks for all you did!!! Love you!!

Emma said...

yickes that is so sad..

I hope everything can go smoothly!!

Way to get down and durty!!!

suzanne said...

Such a sweet post! Bless her heart is all I can say. But she's bound and determined to live in that house again, and I know with all the family helping her, it will happen.
Love you, and had fun getting down and durrtty together!

Joyce said...

I got tears in my eyes when I read your post to Papa. It broke my heart! And he just quietly said "wow." Then we were quiet and then we prayed. May God bless you all.

billypsmom said...

Praying for all of you, I hope that the rian holds off & things dry out! God Bless

Joycee said...

Sending love and prayers to all of you. This is such a difficult thing to go through.


Love and prayers to you all. How horrible. I have done that is not fun...even less when it is you with the flooded house. Bless you all. Precious picture of you and Suz....loved those...the dress and boots were quite the fashion statement.

jennifer said...

I am so terribly sorry that happened to your aunt. I'm glad she has you and others to help her deal with the mess that the flood left behind.