First was this article written by a doctor who was on duty at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO on May 22, 2011 when the city was ravaged by a tornado. It's so easy to read about tragedies in the news and consign them to the "oh that's too bad" pile - that place where we store stuff that we know is tragic, but doesn't directly touch our lives. You won't be able to do that any more after reading this doctor's story. It makes the Joplin tornado very real.
Secondly, I was fascinated by the tales of floods. At first, as embarrassing as it is to admit, it was just an outside curiosity - "Hmmmm. I wonder what that would be like." But then I began reading the personal flood story of Marie at Daisy's Book Journal. Marie's beautiful home in Manitoba has become an island, accessible only by boat or hip-waders. As I read her stories of measuring the rise/fall of water in her backyard, sump pumps, generators, ruined septic tanks and faulty electrical lines, watching forces totally out of her control take over her life, "those people" who are affected by the floods had a face and a name.
|Picture courtesy of www.weatherundergound.com|
Since we now live about fifteen miles, as the crow flies (why a crow? Isn't it the same distance for any bird?) from the Missouri River, I have been paying attention to the flooding up-river and the predictions for our area within the next week. Saturday evening we took a drive through several communities along the river's edge that are preparing for the onslaught. A grain elevator at Phelps City, Missouri is surrounded by a 12' earth berm. Homes and businesses in Big Lake, Missouri have been completely emptied. Farmers are scrambling to move grain out of storage bins before it is ruined by flood waters. These are our new neighbors. Though I don't know them personally, seeing the incredible amount of work they have put in to protect their homes, businesses and livelihoods made it so much more "real" than a newspaper or TV story.
But now what? At this point, I have no clue how to help any of these people. I have extended comfort through prayers, but some situations require a more hands-on approach. If you read a post I wrote last November concerning our own small tragedy, you may remember that the people we appreciated in that moment were not the ones who offered platitudes or even prayers - but those who "picked up bricks". How do I pick up bricks for any of these victims?
There are many wonderful organizations - including our favorite, the American Red Cross - who are offering support to those affected by natural disasters. I know my financial contributions help make that possible and I'm glad to give. But is there more? If you are, or have ever been, one of those affected in this way, what did you need most in a one-on-one way? We can't replace your home, or pay all your bills while your business is rebuilding. We can't heal your injuries or resurrect the memories that blew away. But is there a way two people can make a difference? How can we "pick up your bricks"?
Update: Within the past few hours, several levees have breached and produced flash-flooding in our area. While our home is not even close to danger, some of our co-workers and neighbors (not to mention hundreds or thousands of total strangers) are facing huge losses in the next few hours/days... and I'm still at a loss for how to help.