I helped clean up after hurricane
Floyd flooded out eastern NC, and a few years ago, a front came through dropping tornadoes all over the central and eastern part of the state. I have an interesting lightning
story but I will leave that for another time.
One of the tornadoes killed two people in a rural area and one of the people was related to a coworker. Some of us went down to clean up what was left of the house....
Stuff is Stuff. Loosing stuff can be emotionally and financially damaging but most stuff can be replaced.
After the flood, we were cleaning
up one house in an area that had never flooded. A entire section of town was wiped out. We were taking this guy's stuff out of his house and moving it to the curb to be taken to the dump. Fridges and freezers stink. Literally and figuratively.
DO NOT OPEN A FRIDGE OR FREEZER
that has been without power for a couple of weeks. Just DO NOT DO IT! Leave it alone!
Unless you want to puke.
Anywho, we got most of this guys stuff out of the house and we were down to his living room furniture he had just bought. The problem was the furniture had swollen up from the flood water
and we could not get the stuff out the door. I asked the owner, who was maybe in his 30's, if he cared if we busted up his furniture with an axe so it could be taken from the house. There really was no choice but I figured lets let the guy believe he has some control on events
He says yes so one of my guys takes my axe and starts tearing up this guys furniture. I think it was the first new furniture the guy ever had owned.
The owner and I are standing outside the house while his furniture is being busted up. Pretty spring day. Clear sky. Nice temps. It stunk though. Literally and figuratively, since we were surrounded by piles of house hold goods that was destroyed by the flood. The houses were 40-50 years old in this part of town and as we were talking, I noticed his roof looked new so I asked him if he had just redone his roof.
He said, "Yep, just put on a brand new roof to keep water
out of the house."
We both just busted a gut laughing at that statement. You had no choice but to laugh at the irony as we were surrounded in rotting stench of his, his neighbors, and his family's belongs rotting in the sun, with his pretty new roof protecting his water logged house, while my guys busted up his brand new furniture. That man had not one thing left in the world. Nothing.
Except his family.
Got other stories of that flood but that is enough...
The tornado cut a path in a rural area and destroyed four homes. If the tornado path had been 100 yards one way or another the two people would not have died.
The clean up served three purposes. To clean up the mess, finding stuff of value, which was mainly emotional value, and to show the surviving family members that somebody beside family gave a rats a...ss.
Two of the trailers were just gone. Spread across a few acres. One son held his elderly dad as his father bled to death. No stuff was left that had money value. The home we were cleaning
up had been picked up, turned over and dropped upside down. It was a modular home that was strapped down but the tornado ripped the strapping like it was a zipper. Things of value were removed but mostly we were looking for the keepsakes and photos. THAT was the important stuff.
This house was maybe 1/4 to 1/3 a mile from the two trailers where the dad died. I was walking through the field cleaning up stuff and I found a photo
from one of those two trailers. I guess maybe 1/2 mile away. The photo
was not from the family I was helping so I walked over and asked if this photo belong to the other family. Sure enough it did. It was a fairly old photo of a child and the family said it was one of the few remaining photos they had of that child.
From the tone of voice it sounded like the kid in the photo had died. I don't know if the child had died at an early age or later in life and I sure was not going to ask. They had enough trauma to deal with without any reminders of the past. They did not get much out of the rubble that was left of the two homes but I got lucky and found one thing that was a treasure for them. They walked away clutching that photo. Unreal that it survived and I found it....
Most stuff is just stuff. Not really worth much, if any, money But there is other stuff that connects generations that has a different value.
In our case, we don't have much important family stuff, and what we do have, can be stored sorta cheaply.
If a disaster ever hits near you, go help out. It does help the victims and honestly, the Federal government
don't do s...t. The disasters I have seen, only local people have come out to help with the exception of religious groups. I was in Eastern NC right after Floyd hit, and in the town were we cleaned up houses, the flood waters had just peaked. I brought some people back a week or so later to help clean up. Even with the water still high, Mennonites were already working to provide clothing
and services to the victims. The Red Cross was in town giving out cold dinners and the National Guard had a mess setup at the railroad station. That was it. When I got back down there a week or so later, the Baptists had moved in with quite a bit of help and equipment
and the Mennonites were still there. I don't know where those Mennonites came from but they were awesome. They would put your fanny to work ASAP if you were just standing around not doing anything!
The Guard was gone. The Red Cross was gone. The Feds were never to be seen which ticked me off to no end. NC has a USMC divsion, the 82nd airborne, a USMC air wing, at least one USAF air wing just upstream of the flooding, and I think at the time, another air wing at Ft. Bragg. A company of infantry in each county for a week would have help the citizens immensely and yet not one unit moved off post/base which pisses me off. Not one.
After the tornadoes, same results. No Feds. I did not see the National Guard or Red Cross either but they could have been there somewhere. The only people on the ground picking the sh..t up was locals and a church drove down from VA to help clean up what we had not finished.
I told one volunteer fire fighter that what we really needed to do after we picked through the rubble was to push the stuff into a pile and burn it but if we HAD done that, THEN we would have seen the Feds and State. They would have come it to write us up for some violation.
The fire fighter pulled the coworkers family member
from the rubble and tried to save the father.
Anywho, if their is a local disaster, go help out. Its the only dam...d help the locals are going to get that helps them directly. The Feds will eventually throw in some dollars but that does not get the stuff clean up and put on the road. The survivors are left alone except for family and maybe some neighbors to clean up. A few strangers showing up in a few trucks with some tools, strong backs and weak minds really helps out the survivors. SOMEONE DOES care.
One of the families we helped out sent me a very nice thank you note which I have kept and will be put into storage if we pull off the boat idea.