This blog post is taken from two emails that our Senior Minister, Becky Edmiston-Lange, sent to the choir in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. I would encourage each of us to tell our stories, and if so moved, send them to Katy Carpman to include as a blog post.
September 2nd, 2017
Dear family, friends, colleagues and beloved church members,
I have blessed news to share. Most of you read my earlier missive in which I described evacuating from my home certain that it was going to flood. Well, yesterday I learned that my house has been spared. My house and that of my next-door neighbor are the only ones on my street that do not have any water. And streets even farther from the bayou than mine are flooded. My house is just that much higher by inches! No reason for it except indiscriminate dumb luck!
Meanwhile, a dear church member had loaned me her spare car – a Ford Expedition. With its higher clearance, I was able yesterday to drive to within a mile of the house and wade in the rest of the way. My neighbor, who had declined to evacuate, had alerted me that he thought my house was dry, but he wasn’t sure and I wanted to see for myself. I waded through hip deep water at times, but in front of my house, the water had receded almost to the sidewalk. I was able to get back in, confirm that indeed the house was dry, turn the power back on, leave a key with my neighbor and backpack out with some more clean clothes and other comfort items. I don’t know yet when I will be able to get back in to stay. The water from Buffalo Bayou is receding but slowly as they continue to release water from the reservoirs.
I was feeling fortunate before from all the evacuation assistance I received from neighbors and people I had never met and will likely never see again and from all the outpouring of concern and caring that I had received since from you all. Now I blessed beyond words, humbled.
I share a picture below which I took yesterday of rain lilies in bloom in my front yard. Ironically, these flowers – which are supposed to bloom whenever the sun comes up after a heavy rain – had petulantly refused to bloom all spring and summer, indifferent to the vagaries of our weather. But Harvey finally made them yield. Maybe they are a small harbinger of hope and renewal, at least of beauty, in the aftermath of a storm.
There is so much work that awaits us. So much misery to alleviate; so much building and rebuilding to be done. My hope is that we won’t forget again, as we too often do – when tragedy passes and the lesson fades – that we really are all neighbors to one another, strangers though we may be.
In faith and love,
August 30, 2017
Dear family, friends, Emerson folks, and colleagues,
I had to evacuate the house today. The water wasn’t in yet but it was rising and I think my entire neighborhood will be, if it isn’t already, under some degree of water. The lower streets already had water in second floors. I’m kicking myself for not getting my car to higher ground when it was possible, but I believed that a house that hadn’t flooded in fifty years and with the predictions I was following closely that my street would be spared.
I am in a Best Western Hotel about a mile and a half from the church. I was able to bring out two backpacks of stuff plus a laptop. What I actually have with me is a hodgepodge of a mystery. But I was able to walk to a CVS about a mile away and buy some essential items I forgot. I am safe, dry, cool, and I even scored a beer at the CVS. I don’t have any idea when I will be able to get back into my house. A man and his sons from the neighborhood came by this morning and helped me get the furniture on blocks, etc. I had already put a lot of stuff up higher but they were able to do more than I could do myself. When I left I was thinking I would be able to get back into the house soon. But who knows if that will be the case. Three other good Samaritans, a boat ride, two truck rides, many phone calls, a reservation agent in India and many great people at my neighborhood rec center got me to this hotel.
I know I am fortunate, blessed really. I have resources. I am part of a loving supportive community. But forgive me if I am also feeling a little stretched. This has been all that much harder without Mark. And the anniversary of his death is coming up soon. To leave the house we put so much love into – and lived so much love in -together was very hard.
But this is hard for so many of us. And devastating for so many more. Numbers of the congregation are in a similar situation or worse. But I still plan on leading worship on Sunday. I’m assuming I can get there! Someone will give me a ride, I’m sure. Transportation is going to be a challenge for lots of folks, though. Rental cars are by waiting list and insurance claim. So many technicalities await. But tomorrow is another day.
For now, let us all of us hold one another in the warm embrace of our hearts. And, as Wayne Arnason, says, let us take courage for the reality is we are not alone.