My friend Natalie moved away from Brooklyn to Central Pennsylvania and shortly thereafter her new apartment flooded, she had an emergency evacuation and suddenly lost just about everything. Her thoughts within a week of the flood were very inspirational to me and I thought they might be to you, as well. Learning how to lean on folks in times of crisis is really difficult and it helps to be reminded that it happens and our communities can reach out in very surprising ways. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, but it doesn’t make it easy.
20. It is ill-advised to move during a tropical storm.
19. If you must move during a tropical storm be sure not to move into an apartment nestled between a reservoir and a river.
18. Stepping out of bed into foot of water in which things that are precious are floating will render your brain almost completely useless for quite some time.
17. It is best to have some one who loves you a great deal very close at hand under those circumstances
16. National news coverage is useless in an emergency.
15. Local weather coverage is even more useless in an emergency.
14. Having seen images of homes flooded on CNN is in no way preparation for being flooded
13. Even in the midst of “catastrophic flooding” there will be miracles, like a co-worker offering to let me live in her house which is unoccupied, has been on the market for months, and is staged for showing while I sort it all out.
12. Some people you love will disappoint you when you need them most, i.e., my father suggesting that maybe this happened as a result of my “lifestyle”. (My apologies to Central PA for bringing the wrath of gawd upon you all)
11. Nothing beats getting a call from a friend you haven’t talked to in years who wants to make sure you are going to be alright.
10. Sometimes when people ask if you need anything they are hoping you will say no.
9. The most expensive part of recovering from a flood is rebuying things used frequently towels, underwear, socks, salt, soap, toilet paper, etc.
8. Never use cardboard to pack valuables. Plastic bins all the way.
7. The shock of waking up surrounded by water pales compared the heart break of trying to decide what’s most valuable in the moments before a mandatory evacuation.
6. Gawd has an impeccable sense of irony as demonstrated by having a pair of my ex’s underwear be the only ones not rendered useless by flood waters.
5. When you are as powerful as I am it is best to be thoughtful what you say. Case in point: remarking that I wish I owned a fourth of the things I did while unpacking the uhaul the day before the flood.
4. Even waterlogged and beginning to mold there are some things I can’t bring myself to discard (signed copies of S/he by Minnie Bruce Pratt and Wounded in the House of a Friend by Sonia Sanchez; a butterfly mobile my husbutch gave me; a love letter I received in college.)
3. Bubble bathing will go a long way towards restoring your faith in water post flood.
2. Sometimes people who have nothing to spare will offer you their last. Being overwhelmed with gratitude is to be expected.
1. The definition of Love is the Strange Black Girl who will stop the world to hold your hand while you cry over a waterlogged pile of cards, pictures, and gifted art.