This is one of the 50+ plus houses I photographed today. I saw hundreds of devastated homes today. I took as many of them into my heart through my eyes as I could so that I might share in their suffering in some small way - "with" them. Yet this is not why I write...
I want to tell of meeting someone today when I was photographing these houses especially. We spoke for over an hour and it was a blessing to meet with him and speak with him. He had gotten out of his truck to warn me as I was photographing this house of the toxins and possibility of critters in this yard. The house had just been condemned (pink notice on the door) after 4 warnings by the city. He explained to me how many efforts have been made by the city to help people with free gutting, free demolishments, etc. But many of the people whose houses - 18 months later - that have not been gutted, have done nothing more in response then take off the latest warning posted on their house. It becomes for the neighborhood, a health hazzard as the belongings and the walls are covered in mold, even as we were standing and talking the smell of mold was so strong, I felt lightheaded.
I shared with him that I could understand, after my own years of suffering as well as counseling others, how suffering can happen and for some - great strength and courage is found through the tribulation and sufferations - and for others, there is a collapsing - psychologically and emotionally. It felt to me that these houses represented "outwardly", those in the community who have collapsed inwardly.
Now I was sharing this only being here since February of 2007. This beautiful soul, his name was Brother Lucien (I hope I am spelling it right), spent 3 days on the roof of his house with 6 family members as 10' of water swirled around them. I can't even begin to imagine in my mind what it was like for them, waiting in the night, waiting during the day, listening to the sounds of neighbors - he told me of listening to the screams of a neighbor who was stuck in her attic before she was rescued.
Brother Lucien told me of he and his family having to watch a man who decided to rob houses who had taken a inflated pool and was paddling around in the swirling waters, robbing empty houses (going through the second floors if the houses were tall enough), as the waters were 10' plus before settling to 8' and seeing him get a puncture in his raft-pool and having to make a decision as a compassionate man who has given his life to God, not to help this man who was drowning. Brother Lucien shared with me the pain of that decision - the pain that he and his family had to endure as they watched him go under. And the Grace he felt when this man surfaced and eventually made it to his friend who saved him.
And this beautiful soul - Brother Lucien, spoke of how he waited until a boat came to rescue all of his family - all 6 - he would not leave one of them behind. He spoke of how God delivered them and rescued them all, and how he felt like Noah being delivered by the blessings of God.
Yes, Brother Lucien was and is blessed by God...
And I have been blessed by being able to spend the time I did with him today as he shared of his life, his love of his family, his life with God, and his experiences of the storm. I was blessed and honoured to be in his presence.