My friend, Brenda Bateman, down in Texas wrote this after hours on a horse in the flood, freezing, saving animals and humans. This is an incredible read:
There have been no walks along the path this week as I have followed the path of Hurricane Harvey instead.
I have ridden a horse in lap-deep water for so many hours, I thought I would never feel warm again. I have listened to the desperate calls and read fb messages of people who have been on rooftops in pouring rain for hours and who were unable to get their calls thru to rescuers. I have dispatched those calls to the Cajun Navy, the Coast Guard and the Red Cross because I was gifted with the right contacts.
I have been able to rescue a few people, some livestock and pets. I have also passed by the bloated floating bodies of animals who grew too weary and drowned.
I have seen snakes and lizards and bats clinging to treetops and rooftops, looking just as shell-shocked as the people we were pulling into boats and processing at the shelters. I have seen neighbors from near and far...WAY out of state....show up with boats, supplies and compassion. I have seen first responders who have been on scene since Saturday, sleep propped against a wall for a few minutes, then get up and do it all again.
I have seen all this and much more. Every muscle in my body aches, my head hurts and my heart is shattered. I want and need to cry but there is no time yet for such self-indulgence. There are too many people in pain who need a kind touch and a tender word. Because they have lost home, vehicle, mementos and beloveds. They need love and they need hope.
YOU can provide that. Many of you have already been opening your wallets to organizations who can meet some of these most immediate needs. Thank you for that. And there is going to be such a need for a while.
Many of you are already planning and packing to go help with the cleanup...which will be weeks...maybe even months....in the making. But you may not know how to start.
The best way to help is to just show up. Go to one of the streets where you see debris piled by the curb and people hauling trash out. Just show up and start sorting....salvagable from ruined beyond description Take a hot meal with disposable plates and utensils to the homeowners/workers.
shovel mud, sweep water, tear sheet rock, bleach walls, countertops and anything else water has touched. Play and talk with the children/teens as you work. They need to feel like they are seen and heard.
Load up supplies. These are what I can think of in my distress; I am sure there are many others.
gloves, masks, trash bags, string, duct tape, boxcutters, ladders, old tshirts and aprons that can be worn and then thrown away, bleach, cleaning supplies, spray bottles, paper towels, old or shop cloths, hammers, ziploc bags of all sizes for saving papers, photos, etc, sharpies to label, boxes of all sizes (clear plastic ones are best), insect repllent, fire ant killer, rat poison, animal traps.
First aid supplies, hand cream, tylenol, nonperishable foods that can be eaten without preparation (fruit cups, sandwiches,
juice boxes, bottled water, etc.)
Things you can do while the cleaning goes on: play with the children (bring balls, cards and board games...they have lost everything, too), read to little ones make a clean, dry place for children or adults alike to lay down and nap while others work.
provide toiletries (brushes & combs, too), diapers, linens (most of us have extra), pillows, phone/tablet chargers that can be used in your vehicle if they are still without electricity.
Bring hot meals, cookies and snacks.
I know this is long but my mind is all cluttered and my desire is to dispense as much info as possible to those of you who want to know what you can do. There is no limit.
What is your talent? Your passion? Sing..play your instruments, tell some cute jokes (they need to laugh...it is heaing), take pictures and photo their damage/possessions for their insurance claims. Offer to run errands, Pray with them and for them. Hug them. Even big burly men who are terrified of how they will care for their families need a hug.
Just show up. It's the best way to help.