Many of my friends have been asking how they can or saying ‘let me know if you need anything’. The proper southern girl in me always responds, ‘thank you for thinking of us and I think we’ll be ok’. The truth is, that is a lie. We are not ok. Physically, my family is fine; but emotionally and financially we aren’t. For those of you who have never had to go through a natural disaster, once you start cleaning up, it hits you that there are different kinds of help. The truth is, what would really help is money, or gift cards, preferably a little of both. I know culturally, it is a taboo for us to ask for money; it denotes a lack of class and also a lack of trying. But the truth is, that this isn’t always the case. As I’m trying to salvage my family’s home I realize that – once you get behind the emotional roller coaster – it is a financial roller coaster…one that I’d preferably like to get off soon. We don’t need help ripping out carpet, moving furniture, etc. We need financial help. Let me explain how I came to this conclusion.
Organizations such as the RedCross and various other assistance groups are designed to help in the immediate. You are displaced, of course you don’t have a toothbrush or a hot meal. They can provide that for you and a cot to sleep on. These organizations are necessary and I am grateful they exists; in fact, I volunteer with many of them. JJ Watt is doing an amazing job raising money for Texas…that goes to infrastructure and big organizations like those listed above, not immediate families. Also, while volunteering people donate large items like a tylenol container filled with 500 caplets and a convenience pack of 8 toothbrushes; organizations can’t use those because they can’t be distributed or broken up due to health reasons. However, the real assistance comes after the waters have receded. When you walk into a flooded home, you are walking into a cess pool of feces, urine, mud, toxic mildew, mold, and bacteria. In fact, it is an extremely unhealthy environment in which the effects can be felt years after that incident. Your initial reaction is, what the hello kitty is this mess, followed by, how can I salvage, what can I salvage, where do I begin? The good news is you can salvage some things. For example, you can salvage your plates, dishes, utensils. However, take the eating ware that you used for breakfast or lunch, go to your toilet, make sure your stomach is upset with diarrhea, dip all of your eating ware in it, then put it back in your cabinet. Disgusted? Well, that’s the facts people. When a house floods, the sewage system floods, the water pipes flood, everything gets pushed back up. This is where the money comes in. Money will buy boxes to pack those dishes up to transport them to a house where a dishwasher is and they are not flooded, it will pay for the tripled or quadrupled water and electricity bill that it costs to clean them, and money will pay for new clean boxes to package the dishes in once they are clean and sanitized to move to your new home. FEMA and RedCross will not pay for this, neither will your local assistance agencies. Here are a few more things money will pay for:
Copious amounts of Lysol, laundry detergent, and vinegar to disinfect non-washable items
Clothes that can not be washed, but have to be dry cleaned multiple times
Water and electricity bills that go up astronomically because you have to disinfect everything
Buys new dress clothes so that we can go on job interviews because we are not only homeless, but jobless
Pays for the trailer to haul items, the gas to move from a town 4-5 hours away
Pays for new housing items and linens that can’t be saved. Imagine it as a hurricane registry instead of a wedding or baby registry. You are a couple who has nothing, what do you need to make your house a home.
Art supplies for my mother’s business. Without her supplies, she can’t make her pieces, which means she can’t sell them and make an income.
My family has insurance, but once the inspector looks at the house, he doesn’t cut a check right then and there; it takes several months for the claim to be processed. Multiply that by the sheer volume of the people that are in the same situation as my family. Money and gift cards now, help us to move on with our lives now. If you want to help, help by giving us the resource that will help us rebuild our lives in the immediate. You can’t go on a job interview if you don’t have a suit to wear, appropriate shoes, or copies of important papers. Money will also pay for the printing of these types of documents.
My family has given so much over the years, in fact, those of you who are reading this blog might have been someone they helped. My parents would never ask for help, and I feel taboo asking as well, but it’s the reality. Our family home is a giant toxic toilet in which everything has been ruined. Help us to move on, to re-establish ourselves. If you would like to assist, please send to my address: 2202 Shady Tree Lane, Conroe, Texas 77301. Any amount will do, $5 or $50 can go a long way. Any money or gift cards that we do not use will be given to families who can use them. We know we aren’t the only ones experiencing this. While I have been volunteering and helping out, it’s time for me to help my family. When deciding what to give, think, if I were in the situation could I use this? You can’t get a suit at Wal-Mart, but you can get Lysol there. Some items you can purchase with a gift card, or even if you feel more comfortable, you can get a visa gift card. Anything will help. Also, if you are reading this and don’t know me or my family (and wouldn’t feel comfortable giving to us, that is fine, adopt another family – there are plenty of us that need help).