Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When it rains... It pours!

I get a lot of comments from people saying that I am so calm and patient and never seem to fall apart.


 They just haven't seen me at the right time.

 Saturday was the right time.

 Not for me.

 For those who want to see me fall apart.


 Television Sitcom Flashback Mode...



 I was so relieved when Marc pulled into the driveway at almost 4 o'clock that afternoon from his Lake Blanche Hike that he had gone on with our Brother-in-law, Joel, and his son Jman.

Here is a glimpse at his hike. I'll post more on that later.

 I'd had a really rough night with the kids, Sister particularly, and I just needed to melt into his arms and have him listen to my woes.

 I had a meeting at our home with some other moms of children with special needs the night before and as much as I liked the camaraderie, laughing with other moms in my situation and meeting new faces, it was very stressful for Sister. She did not do well with having 15 strangers come into her home, and she made sure to let me know.

 I've learned my lesson.

 Only friends and family can barrage our home.

 I'm sorry strangers.

 My daughter just can't handle you being here.

 She didn't stop informing me of that after they left. Nope. She had nightmares all night, and was up and falling apart at 6:00 in the morning.

 There was one bit of sunlight to that morning of fall-aparts and that was when Sister buried her head in the crevice of the coach and cried with big crocodile tears as she told me, "I don't know why I act like this mom."

 It was such an eye opener for me to see how she was really able to express something that profound and it also broke my heart to have it affirmed to my heart that her body has disabilities, but her spirit is whole.

 I think it was after I sat and held her tiny little body for 20 minutes, after all that I had been through with her the night before, I realized that I needed to be held. My caregiving was at its max and now it was my turn to be cared for.

 Over the next several hours I thought about Our Life and all that it entails... and all that it doesn't. It wears me out to think like this, so I try not to do it very often.

 At 4 o'clock it was my turn to not have to think at all and just fall apart in my hubby's arms. I tried to do the whole "wifey" thing while we said our goodbyes to Joel and Jman and not smother Marc too much. I made sure to hold back my tears and my raw emotions until it was just Marc and I.

 I was getting anxious to talk to my sweetheart about my struggles while he was gone when something caught my eye as Joel and Jman were leaving...

Marc and I headed into the house because it was looking scary, and it got scary fast. Marc's phone had beeped about 5 minutes before this video informing us of a flash flood advisory in our area. We've had those warnings before and... nothing. So we just sat in the front room of our house and watched in wonder and amazement as the winds picked up and the rains came down in pingpong ball sized raindrops. We were amazed at the power of nature and reveled in watching the streets beginning to look like streams as the storm drains overflowed from all the water that was coming down.

I noticed that, because of the pounding, wind-driven rain, our back door in the kitchen was leaking water through the window seam on one side and through the weather stripping on the other. I was panicking that we were going to have our kitchen flooded because of the water coming in so fiercely and ran to get some towels to stop it from spreading or getting worse.

While I was doing this, Marc got the impression to check the downstairs back door.

Within seconds of doing that he ran upstairs and yelled to me, "Dam the door!"

Those 3 words became the theme of the day... you'll soon find out why.

Literally seconds later, what Marc had witnessed downstairs as a pooling of water outside the basement door had turned into mirky water gushing through a weak crevice at the bottom, left side of the door. The stairwell that led from the yard to the basement door was filling at a rate so quickly that the small pool at the bottom had become 2 feet high within the moments it took me to get down there. I threw down the towels I had brought down and the water just pushed them away. I grabbed a heavy rug that was sitting there in the laundry room and hoped that it's weight would help hold back the water. It was pushed away by the water's pressure too.

I was screaming by this time. Screaming with fear and panic that I was not going to be able to stop this water from rudely entering my home.

Another stranger coming into my home was the last one I needed right now... especially this unwelcome and aggressive one.

My kids were already a bit spooked by all the rain and wind that they had witnessed so hearing their mother screaming and seeing water pouring into the laundry room did not help their heightened awareness of the situation.

As I was grabbing a large quilt that would hopefully hold back the brunt of the forceful stranger I was calling to the kids, "It's OK. It will be OK. Mommy's just scared. I'll be fine. We're gonna be OK."

Brother and Sister were writhing in panic not knowing where in the house to even go to get away from this horribly awful yet amazing to watch disaster.

I had to leave my panicking children to run back upstairs and see what Marc needed help with. He was standing at the kitchen door, I think shocked and confused. (From the time he had run downstairs it may have only been 1-2 minutes, so he hadn't been up there long before I came running up in a panic.)
He had heard me screaming and panicking below and knew this may be more than we could handle.

Marc ran out into the rain first, he had a rain coat on and shorts, his wonderful hike still fresh on his clothing. The rain sounded like it was growling as it hit his coat and the monster rain dashed inside within the seconds it took to close the door again. I stood there in my t-shirt and jeans not knowing what to do, listening to the water rushing in through the basement door and my kids crying and sobbing about the water coming into their sanctuary.

All I could think to do was to get our there and help Marc stop the water from coming in, I couldn't do much else inside with all the rushing water until it could be slowed down from the outside. I heard Brother scream at me not to leave as I shut the back door.

The moment I stepped onto our deck to rush down the stairs to the ground I was soaked to the bone. There wasn't a dry inch on me and the rain pelted into my already water-filled eyes.

Rain was streaming down from our roof onto our stairs making little waterfalls down the side feeding into, what looked like, a small river rushing from the east side of our cement patio down into the abyss that was once seen as a stairwell.

I stood there watching Marc try to build a barrier near the top stairs to divert the water away from the stair well. I ran to help build the barrier but it was hopeless as the water rush with such force down the the stairway into our home. I saw a large tupperware container nearby that had been housing some sidewalk chalk. I grabbed it, ran into the mirky pool and began hopelessly bucketing out the water. Marc saw my efforts and ran to grab a bigger bucket and come into the trenches to replace me and handed me the full bucket to empty at the far end of the yard.

We worked furiously this way for what seemed like an hour but was only a minute or so.

I was crying and screaming for someone to come help us.

It was like my crisis scene in a movie, screaming into the empty storm, "Please help us!! If you can hear me, please help us! Help!!! Somebody help!!" It was indeed dramatic and I felt it to my core that our house was going to have five feet of water and we would never recover.

Marc and I quickly agreed that our efforts were meaningless in opposition to this raging storm above us. Marc told me to run to the neighbors to see if they had a sump pump.

I don't know why I was crying. I was so wet that you couldn't see the tears anyway. I probably just looked like a wet lunatic running about the neighborhood.

I was still in my dramatic movie role and ran across the, now flowing stream of a street, to knock, bang and plead for mercy at the neighbors doorbell.


What do I do now.

I cried harder.

Then I started running from house to house screaming for help, "Our basement's flooding, grab some buckets, come help us!" I could hardly get these words out between each shivering whimper. Each one who answered the door came with eyes large with fear when they saw my panic and then scavenged for shoes and a jacket as the ran across the street to our aid.

I then ran into the back yard to inform Marc that I had told some neighbors to come help us and we assumed back to our routine of me dumping the buckets he was bringing up.

I have no idea how many people or how long it took for them to get there, but soon there were many hands and many buckets being handed and emptied while others tried to build a barrier to hold back the rush of water. I remember looking up into the rain at one point and screaming, "God! Please stop the rain! Please!"

Ya. Dramatic. Incredibly.

In fact it was so dramatic that one of the women who came to help, not even a neighbor, but the daughter of a neighbor, ran into the back yard and just grabbed me and continued to hug me as I sobbed reassuring me that it would all be OK.

Someone asked me to find some garbage bags to aid in the blocking of water so I ran in to hear my children crying and familiar voices of Lindsey and her sister Kenna trying to comfort our kids. Although my heart still raced it also fluttered with happiness knowing that without me even asking our children were already being helped. I ran downstairs to check to see if there what anything I could do and I was further panicked to see 3 inches of standing water in the laundry room streaming effortlessly into our family room, hall and office. I began to hyperventilate as I ran from room to room unplugging all electronics, then running to the corner of the living room where Sister had stashed her hoard of papers, cards, toys, files, artwork and bags. They were all getting wet from the water and I threw all of it behind me in a frenzy to keep it from all getting soaked. Sister had already had a rough night, I couldn't let all her hoarded items get wet and traumatize her any further. As I was doing this I saw the stream of water seeping along the floorboards and all the way across the room to the pile of pillows and blankets that brother had heaped into the corner.

I heard footsteps above trying to help the pitter patter of the little feet calm and rushing to find more towels and blankets to sop of water. I waded back into the laundry room to see what was happening in there and it was like a slow motion moment seeing Marc standing in 3-4 feet of water just on the the other side of the windowed door to our home. I could see the bucket swooshing under the water only to be hopelessly replaced by another one. I saw other blurred forms running to and fro to help Marc with the bailing of water, and other blurs still working on a barrier to stop the flow of the river. The only barrier between the storm and our sanctuary was less than a half inch thick and see-through.

That was a scary sight.

I ran upstairs in a rush as the doorbell rand and I saw 3 young girls, Soso, Mymy and Libs with big smiles on their faces that quickly turned to fear when they saw my face and I directed them to help with the kids and help sop up water downstairs.

I can't remember what happened between that time and the time that the rain finally stopped and I was standing still soaked and barefoot in my office on the sopping carpet talking to our insurance agency. I just remember hearing Marc's breath behind me as he listened to the the conversation and then as he left again only to come back and wrap a blanket around my shaking body.

I love him.

There was really no comfort to give each other about the situation other to be thankful that we had each other, our kids and our house was not 5 feet under water.

It was a blur of activity below me as shop vacs were going, towels wiping and buckets still emptying while I talked to one person then another about insurance coverage, clean up and cost. It turns out we don't have flood insurance. It just was going to be affordable to pay the $1000 plus to have a clean up crew to come help us.

Our helpers started to leave and word in the air was that we were only one of several homes that had been flooded in the neighborhood.

I started to feel foolish as it settled upon me how dramatic I had been and especially knowing we weren't the only ones who went through this tragedy.

I was flooded with the realization that not only was I dramatically reacting to the flood, but I was reacting to my feelings of the night before. I was analyzing the fact that our 3 children would be at a loss in their own home.

They had eventually been taken to Amanda's house with the sweet girls who had come to my door earlier, which I found out later hadn't come over because they heard my screams but because they wanted to borrow a movie... tee hee. That made me laugh. Them too.

The whole ordeal from start to finish lasted about 35 minutes! That was it! 35 minutes! It felt like hours of panic and fear.

I can't even fathom what those who have been through HUGE tragedies must feel. It sure put it all in perspective how blessed we were.

Not to mention all the help we received from friends, family and neighbors. The help slowly but steadily kept coming in and out until 11:00 that night when we finally got all our furniture moved and carpet moved out, padding thrown away and fans gathered to dry out the baseboards, drywall and floors.

It was truly amazing to be witness to and beneficiary of the help that was rendered by so many adults and youth.

It is humbling to sit in your living room after it is all over with friends as they plan what to make for you for dinner the next day.

When Marc and I finally laid our heads on our pillows that night, we didn't say much. I didn't tell him all that had happened with Sister the night before or how I felt. I just held his bulky arm as my mind spun with memories of the day and thankfulness in my heart for all those around us who care for us.

Thank you to everyone, and there were many, who helped us and all the other families whose homes flooded on Saturday.

I did this sidewalk chalk drawing the next day. Quite fitting.

1 remarks:

Rochelle said...

What a crazy scary day! I can't believe that all happened:( Next time I go to your house I'll have to see where it all happened. I can't picture it right now. So scary though!!!