Where is the news on Tropical Storm Debby's aftermath?
It’s like the best kept ‘not secret’. There are 5 partially drowned counties in Florida. Tropical Storm Debby thrashed the gulf coast, spawned 10 tornadoes and dumped up to 25” of rain in some places around June 26, 2012.
I left there yesterday. Today there are still piles of mushy furniture and formerly loved belongings on sidewalks. Sink holes continue to appear like the one that destroyed the newly built court house in Lake City. Marooned homes are still inaccessible. Well water is fouled by exploding septic tanks, ‘gators and moccasin snakes swim in some yards, the leech, mosquito and bug onslaught is relentless.
The stagnant water stinks and in many places it does not appear to be going anywhere soon despite 24x7 pumping. Walls in homes lucky enough to have receding waters turn black with mold overnight. Many lost everything. This storm was an equal opportunity destroyer. Mobile homes lost their footings as water rose 1’ an hour floating their beloved belongings, and mansions were deluged by walls of water. Before the disaster there were demarcations of social and economic status, after the disaster all are one.
Many of the roads are sand. Yes sand. Get off the interstate and there they are. On those roads the bogging is easy.
The stories of heroism as neighbors rescued or helped neighbors bring a tear. Privileged to be present at a community sponsored fund raiser I noticed an adolescent son stand by his mother, his arms around her (do teen boys still do that?), a little girl squealed in delight when she spotted her daddy in the crowd, husbands and wives danced together. The place is called Lake City and it is in Columbia County.
When the video of the flood damage was shown the sadness was palpable. These families have farmed and lived here for generations. They love their land. Their past, present and future was drowning. Sadness was there but so was resilience.
County resources are strained to the breaking point, formal and informal leaders rose to the challenge, charities, agencies, local and Federal agencies, the Red Cross and other volunteers flooded the area to help. And help they did in heroic and splendid ways.
Random and nameless acts of kindness abounded, a man in a shelter needed a bicycle to get to work, it was donated; a disabled child needed shoes and clothes, they appeared; a man fled to the shelter without a shirt on his back, nearby construction workers gave him one; a local carpet supplier offered his staff, at his cost, to tear up sodden carpeting for those who could not do it themselves. A woman wrote to the paper telling how she and her grandson were driving only to be swept up by a flash flood. She praised the actions and kindnesses of the local sheriff and his deputies who rescued and helped them with issues like insurance.
Despite the fact that the suffering continues I search the news to find the prolonged suffering mentioned. I find stories about Tom Cruise’s third divorce, the re-opening of drive-in movie theaters, and yet more about George Zimmerman, but nothing about the aftermath of the recent fire and flood disasters that ravaged huge tracts of our nation.
So here I am, a “not real journalist” writing that North Central Florida is still hurting as are fire ravaged Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and recently flooded other states. Please consider sparing a thought and a prayer for your neighbors.