Shall I pour forth the grievings of my heart out unto you?
My heart today is filled with so much grief. Will you share it with me?
Yesterday, I helped Miss Elizabeth get a storage space and we were all ready to move her belongings (mostly in crates) into it when the storm hit. I guess a lot of us thought that the worst of the storm was over the night before. The thunder and lightening was so intense during the night. I couldn't sleep for the worries I had of the people in FEMA trailers who could be struck by that lightening at any moment. Mrs. G whom I have written briefly about in my message, told me when I saw here yesterday that she could not sleep either as the storm raged on through the night and repeated over and over again (as a mantra) the 23 Psalm.
So Miss Elizabeth and I were at Common Ground at St. Mary of the Angels enlisting some help from the guys she knows there to help her move her belongings. And then the proverbial "heavens opened". I have never seen so much rain in such a short period of time. And the streets began flooding. So we needed to wait until the rain, coming down in droves, stopped.
Whilst I was in the foyer of the school, a young man I had met the day after Mrs. G was robbed the first time this week, came in carrying a trash bag, soaking wet. He was asking if anyone could take him to the Greyhound bus station in the city as he had a voucher that would take him to where his family was staying in Sacramento. No one offered to help him and my heart went out to him as I observed him standing there drenched with his trash bag of belongings. And so figuring whilst we were waiting for the rain to end, I could take him up to the city to the bus station without interrupting helping Miss Elizabeth, I told him I would take him.
It seems before the rain had begun to fall really hard, he had left another trash bag and a box on the porch of an abandoned house. We drove to the spot where he had left his things and they were soaked. The box was soaked and the bag was wet but at least the contents of the bag were dry.
And I have to tell you that I was in shock, that this was all he had left of his belongings, 2 trash bags and a wet box. He told me later that he was staying in the projects with his young cousins when the flooding came after Katrina/Rita. They were stuck 6 days in the projects, without food. During our drive, before he told me of his experiences during the storm, he told me how he would be without food again for the next 3 days until the bus got to Sacramento and he was with his family, then he would eat til his hearts content. He said, "I 'll just do a lot of sleeping on the bus and before I know, it I will be there and food will be waiting for me". As he continued sharing of his expereinces after the storm, he said that eventually the police/sheriff came and shot the locks off of the Winn Dixie so that they could all eat. On the 6th day they were rescued. He told me witnessing the flooding we were driving through was bringing back those memories.
Since we were an hour early for his bus, and the bus station was right by Unity for the Homeless I told him, "Let's go over there and see if we can get you a suitcase for your belonging, so that you can leave this town and everything you have been through with a little more dignity." So we drove along the streets trying to get to the bus station and Unity, which were flooded.
I was really surprised at how quicly the city flooded yesterday. It made me aware of how vulnerable the city and the people who are living in FEMA trailers, houses with roofs which have not been repaired and the homeless are to the ravages of nature. There is no sense of comfort for them, being in warm, secure homes whilst the storm passes.
I kept praying as we drove along that my engine would not become flooded and we we get stuck in the middle of a street, I was totally stressed out and determined to get him to the bus station. As I was driving through the flooded areas I could really appreciate why there are so many SUV's and big pickup trucks in this city. When I saw the flooding that could occur after this rainstorm, I saw the wisdom of owning vehicles that were positioned high off the ground.
So we drove along, slowly, through the flooded streets, and right before we got to St. Charles street, I hit a curb that was braced with metal that was under so much water I didn't even know it was there. Suddenly the steering wheel and the front end was was pulling to the right. We made it down the street to the gas station and found that the tire had a great gash in it and it was wrecked. The young man I was helping immediately took control of the situation and he borrowed a lug wrench to get off the lug nuts and he tried to put on the spare. In the mean time a man who saw my MA license plates stopped to help a fellow MA resident, which was really sweet, he was a lawyer. The 2 of them tried to get on the spare but could not, the rain continued to come down in droves. Then a young man came up to us with a military hair cut, (ex military) trying to sell air fresheners for money, he said "I can get that tire on for you", my 2 assistants could not get the tire on (as they did not see the positioning of the valve) and had thought in some way the wheel frame was bent. He did get it on and I gave him 5 dollars for helping as I could tell anyone selling air fresheners did not have much to his name and he really did save the day for us.
Well, we tried to inflate the spare but the air machine was broken so we drove around the circle through more flooding - we almost didn't make it through this time because the water was so deep. I kept praying like I heard Mrs. G pray "Lord, help us get through this." Which is not how I pray, but I felt inspired by the power of her faith and used to tone and the words I had heard her use the night her gun was stolen from her and her house was robbed (just a few nights before).
The air machine did not work here either, so I bought some inflate a tire in a can and we were able to get on our way. Unfortunately, due to the turn of dramatic events concerning the flooding and the car, we were not able to get him a suitcase for his belongings. I gave him $10 of my "fixin my muffler" money so that at least he could get some vending machine snacks over the next 3 days when his hunger was really strong. I didn't have more to give him and he hugged me as if I had just given him a hundred dollars. He took out his wet trash bags and I gave him 2 new ones that were really heavy ply and his was on his way.
Me, I drove away crying. I cried because he was so strong and hopeful and grateful. I cried because he was leaving the city he loved with memories of incredible suffering and pain with 2 trash bags and a wet box. I cried for his suffering and the ongoing sufferings of so many here.
My heart continues to grieve today....