In a Flash

by Olivia Barker

You never think it’s going to happen to you or your family. Cancer, lay off’s, changes in your family, natural disasters…you hear about it impacting other people, but what happens when you become the “other people.”

I’ve been on a hiatus for a couple of weeks because I’ve recently become the “other people” you hear about. Houston, TX was devastated by flooding just a few weeks ago and my area of town was one of the hardest hit areas in Houston. In a flash so much changed for me, so many things were put into perspective, while so many other things had me questioning why this was happening to me and my community.

I woke up around 1:30 in morning to the sound of car alarms. It had been thundering and lightening all night so I figured that caused the cars to go off, but when I looked out the window, I saw all of the 
cars in the parking lot of my apartment 3 feet underwater and it was still raining. Over the next 6 hours it rained and the water rose. When it finally stopped raining we had over 4 feet of water in our community. Throughout the night, the first floor residents were leaving their apartments with a few of their personal items and coming to the second floor to escape the water. I had people in and out of my apartment all night and morning using the restroom, looking out the windows at the unthinkable that was happening and watching the news. We had power until about 7am when our apartment shut it off for safety. Our first floor was underwater and we were stuck in our apartments watching so much of our lives being washed away. 

We were without power for nearly 8 hours, no hot water for 5 days and no air conditioning for almost 7 full days. As soon as the water went down far enough, my friends came to get me. I packed a few things, gathered up the pups and we left. Even though I was safe with friends, I could not sleep. It rained off and on for a couple of days after and the sound of raindrops hitting the window made my heart race. I spent the next four days in a sleepy, crying state while I tried to handle my affairs. My insurance was sure my car was totaled because of the year and the fact that water was up to my windows and my glove box was filled with floodwater. My clothes in my apartment were molding because of the moisture and no air conditioning. I had a package that said “left at front door” but our building was still underwater at the time. I cried so much over those few days, partly because of all of the things I was having to deal with, but the other
 part because I was feeling so much guilt because I was so sad when people lost so much more than me.

I was on the phone with someone about the mysterious package left at my front door and he said to me “God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soilders.” His compassion was almost overwhelming. He was so kind and I could hear in his voice that my sadness was hurting him too. The insurance people said “Bless Texas in this terrible time” and the management at my apartment had a makeshift headquarters set up with food, water and a ton of people already working to recover. Others lost their lives in this flood, people lost their homes, their pets, their things, but we were all devastated. My guilt was washed away and instead I just started to think about perspective. I was shocked by the outpour of support from people who I would have never expected to reach out and I was a little shocked by the people who didn’t. I learned how to accept help in a way I never have before, saying yes to rides to and from places until I got my rental car, saying yes when someone offers to help with my laundry or cook me a meal, saying yes, I’m sad, whe
n someone asks how I am. I needed help and for one of the first times in my life I took it without a fight. 

Now that things are finally getting back to normal, we are preparing for another tropical 
storm with threats of flooding. I am planning to stay with friends again, but my stress levels are sky high. This time, I am responsible for a little more. I officially adopted my foster, Benji and am now the proud owner of my first new car ever, Rosie. I am being extra cautious of the annoying “flash flood” warnings and will spend the next few days hunkered down on higher ground. 

Please send positive and dry thoughts our way and God Bless Texas!

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