From a reader:
My family are members of Istrouma Baptist church, my son graduated from Sequitur and my daughter is in her 3rd year at Sequitur as a freshman. My husband and I are big fans of your writing and The American Conservative. We appreciate so much you shining a light on our hurting region, but also the efforts of our resilient people who, in my opinion, are giving our nation a view of what it looks like to ‘love your neighbor’. The following is our story from yesterday’s muck.
Jeff, my daughter and I worked on a disabled elderly man’s home yesterday with three ladies from Arkansas, who came down for the week to help where they could. We worked beside of men and women, young and old, black, white and Hispanic, business owners, people whose homes had been flooded, Church of Christ, Baptists, and non-denominational people. One lady from Mandeville was a breast cancer survivor and had had a double mastectomy last year. It was hot, moldy, wet and stinky. We mucked through 6 inches of poo water, which this sweet man had been living in for 8 days, and none of us knew the others.
A precious group of people had brought food to the neighbors on Mr. Roy’s street the day before and they found him sitting in his wheelchair in his kitchen all alone. He has lived in his house for 30 years and because his son lives in California really didn’t have anywhere to go. All his neighbors had been flooded as well and tried their best to get him to leave, but he refused. A plea went out on Facebook to help this man and one helper came, then two, then three and so on….
I read your article with Brian’s essay the day before where he quoted Rudyard Kipling’s If poem. I remember memorizing that poem as a young child and thought, Yes! I want to “keep my head about me” while we live our new normal.
I confess I failed miserably “keeping my head about me when others lose their own” when I cried as I tried to vacuum the water out of his living room for over an hour. Many thoughts and emotions were pouring over me but the one the Lord wanted me to hear the loudest was this: The Bible tells us we are chosen, loved, redeemed, forgiven, adopted, blessed, and marked….in order to bring Praise to His Glory. This flood has given us multiple opportunities to bring God glory, yes?
I prayed as we dumped all Mr. Roy’s worldly possessions on the side of the road for God to bless Mr. Roy in mighty ways in the days, weeks and months to come. I prayed that we would be a people, who in the midst of great sorrow and hard work, would rise and shine and show this lost and hurting world that our joy comes from the Lord-not material things that can be gone in a matter of minutes. I prayed that God would cleanse me of my pride and give me a new zeal to go and tell about our good and gracious God.
Mr. Roy’s house is not completely finished, but our team made huge headway and hopefully he has decided to leave. Our sweet FB friend found him a furnished safe place, but he has to make the decision to go.
My story could be written hundreds of times over because I believe what we experienced yesterday is happening on every street in every flooded neighborhood all across southeastern Louisiana.
It is. A friend of mine was part of a mucking crew that went to an old man’s trailer. The place had been flooded, and needed mucking bad. The old man would not let them take out the carpet, or anything. It seemed to them that he believed that if he could hold on to everything, he wouldn’t lose any of it. The truth is, by trying to hoard it all, he was going to lose it all eventually to the mold.
The trauma here is severe. But so are the mercies.