2009 Mother’s Day Floods, Gilbert, West VA

GILBERT West Virginia, Logan Co., Mother’s Day Floods May 2009



I am home, essentially because the motel “kicked us out”, & we had no where to go. The ATV/4-wheeler festival is taking place, regardless of the recent flood. ARC had just closed the staff shelters the day before, @ the firehouse & @ Horsepen Baptist Church (which was shared by both Baptists & Red Cross). We were housed 1-hr away in Chapmanville, the closest housing large enough to support a large group of red crossers. So, we had no where to live while providing services to the community. Is there something about this picture that doesn’t make sense? I don’t know why someone didn’t ask the Army if we could share the gym with them @ the YMCA community center (Joe Harless Center). Mr. Toothman, the kind & gentle Southern Baptist Kitchen Manager (a BLUE hat), in Gilbert, said time & time again, what a good collaborative deployment this was, & very different than his previous experiences. @ least our working relationships were very good. I am presently cleaning out my suitcase & repacking just in case they need help in Florida. Jerry woke me up to a wonderful cup of coffee (I couldn’t find decent coffee throughout this DSHR deployment), & the news that there is flooding in Florida. If they call out the ARC, I’ll tell Jill that I need a few days of rest, some time to use the PC & pay bills on-line, etc. I have very special family living in southern Fl).

I haven’t watched the news or read a newspaper for a week; I am so out of touch with the rest of the world. I just need to decompress, debrief, etc., before I can put the ARC red cap back on my head. I promised myself, while in Gilbert, to take 1/2 the size suitcase next time out. My good ARC buddy, Bob Miller, remembers how heavy my suitcase was during Gustev & IKE deployments. The ARC gives us a small daily stipend, primarily for meals, & necessities, so I can buy essentials in a pinch while on the road instead of lugging all this suitcase weight around. I also rely on my old LL Bean backpack, which has seen me through every deployment over the past 10-yrs.

My Gilbert deployment had some very memorable “tender” moments; the emotional Kodak Moments that tug at your heart strings, such as meeting the wonderful, young adult, volunteers & some of our client’s stories. As with most life changing disaster events, most people initially rally in a heroic energized fashion, before tough reality sets in. We were there mostly during that phase, so by-in-large, the clients & community people were wonderful, thankful, & welcoming. What I don’t understand, is why people get so angry, when they live next to a river, have no flood or home owner’s insurance, & are furious that FEMA won’t pay for all their damages, including out-buildings, decks, cars, etc. Yesterday I listened to a man, very angry, @ FEMA, (FEMA had already been to his home), because FEMA wouldn’t fix & replace everything, when he had no flood or home owner’s ins. I had to coach this angry gentleman on how to go to the Community Ctr. to meet w/ FEMA, & the need count to 10, before he entered the room, because he was a little too visibly angry.  I bit my tongue many times. When we were flooded out in ’85, with 4-ft of water in our home, & 4-kids living @ home, we were well insured, & realized eventually the stupidity of us continuing to live in, although a lovely area, a community where 100-yr floods were occurring every 5 yrs or so. We now live on a hill!

In respect to the ARC, there is so much for me to learn. The “well traveled” red crossers use a language I still don’t fully understand. Terminology stumps me frequently. What I do understand, is the commonality that we do share, a willingness & desire to assist others with the tragedies of their lives. That’s what keeps me from being too angry w/ some of our volunteers.  We have such different backgrounds, a great age range, & yet we get along so we can serve others. It is absolutely amazing.

I came home to finding out that someone had come into our yard at night, & had stolen the beautiful hanging baskets of flowers in our front yard that I had received for Mother’s Day & my birthday, a few days before deployment; purchased @ a lovely Mennonite greenhouse. We have lived in our home for 20-yrs. & have never had this type of problem. My goodness, I was not happy. If I wasn’t so glad to see Jerry, I think I would have cried. But I am happy as I bask in the memories of the people we served & the wonderful new friendships I made. I will surely miss these very special people. susan


About tydingsfrushour

Retired social worker, EMT, Red Cross disaster responder. Disaster response, animal rescue, gardening, family, & writing, round out my life. Enjoy country life in the Shenandoah Valley & Blue Ridge mountains.
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