Monday, June 27, 2011
It has been a week of extremes. Physically, environmentally, emotionally, spiritually; everything has had a toll exacted and I’m not sure I’m up for any more.
Last Sunday, we were evacuated from our home because the dyke surrounding our village finally succumbed to the incredible stresses on it and let the river in. Not a little, either…2/3 of our village is underwater and many homes that were underwater will never be able to house a family again. Those that are salvageable will be a long time under renovation and restoration before they can allow people to safely inhabit them again, and they will NEVER be the same.
I have been told I should count myself “lucky”. Our house only had a little water seepage into the basement and yet has remained unscathed. Yes…we’re one of the lucky 20 or so that can come home and just have to mop up a little water.
But it’s not such a wonderful homecoming. The peaceful, quiet, trusting tranquility that we have enjoyed since moving into our house in 2006 has been altered. When we moved here we thought this was paradise compared to the crime-riddled neighbourhood we lived in 2 hours’ drive north of here. Indeed, we had intended this to be a safe place for our girls to continue their teenage years. They, of course, being teenage girls thought of it as punishment because there was “nothing to do”. They still got into trouble. Oh, well, we tried.
This week has been an emotional rollercoaster…the fear of getting everything we absolutely needed out of the house and safely to high ground.
The anger that our house was threatened.
The utter helplessness at the sheer power of nature having her way with us.
The uncertainty of whether or not we would be able to get home any time soon.
The horror at being told our house had been flooded and that nothing was left, further intensified when we were told the whole valley was underwater.
The fury at finding out we had been purposefully misled and that our house was fine.
Utter relief at actually being able to get to our home and finding it, for the most part, completely undamaged.
Hope when we saw the water receding more and more each day.
Terror mixed with righteous anger when we were informed that there were homes being vandalized and looted, and relief again when we found our house remained untouched by the low-life scum committing these unspeakable acts.
Indignation at the disrespect for our privacy when the tourists drive through our community like idiots, pointing fingers, throwing stones at waterlogged homes, asking STUPID questions (How come YOUR house didn’t get flooded?). Helicopters and planes flying so low overhead so that you can read the numbers on the sides of the vehicles, and once almost able to see the faces of the people pressing against the windows to get a better view of the devastation.
Insulted when you realize that there are camera crews on the hill across from your house actually filming you without your permission as you’re trying to weed out your garden, anything to make it look more “occupied”. Since when did my daily activities and comings and goings become such big news?
This is going to be a long ordeal in recovering from this. It is so hard to justify feeling lucky and relieved that your house stands safe while so very many of your friends and neighbours have literally lost everything.
It is hard to remain positive when all these emotions are churning inside you. Myself, I have yet to “feel” much pain, although I’m sure it will come. My poor husband was sick to his stomach on Tuesday. His sous-chef, a sweet young lady who was in another area flooded badly, literally had to take to her bed for two days because she was so very stressed.
And yet, there is now a commeraderie among the remaining villagers that says “I’ll watch your back while you watch mine”. WE have a neighbourhood watch so that the looters won’t have such easy pickings if they come back. We have a collective sense of loss when we learn of one or another family that won’t come back, and still more when we see someone pull up to an unscathed house and load everything they own into a Uhaul, bent on setting up house elsewhere.
We are a community. We’re not what we used to be, but we’re still here. We will fight to protect what’s ours and rebuild and renew where we can.
This is home…and I’m glad we live here.