Dear Flood Victims,
As I look at the photos on the internet of Northeast Arkansas, my jaw drops and tears well in my eyes. I’ve seen flooding, but not this far, not this wide.
This is a tragedy. Water covers roads, houses, crops. I urge you to not trust your feelings. Feel the brokenness, but know that feelings come and go. Just part of the process, part of the story.
No one is at fault. Not one person wants this for you.
We live on the White River and have seen the river grow beyond its banks. We have never flooded, but friends, just a mile downstream, have flooded. Parts of our town (Norfork, Arkansas) have flooded.
People living here check dam levels, river gauges, and watch creeks and rivers unite and become one under a cloudy sky.
This time, it rained for days and days in Arkansas and Missouri. The lakes filled, and the Buffalo finally crested. All creeks and rivers turned brown, overflowing and carrying trees downstream, threatening to destroy whatever was in their path. My husband put the boat in our yard and urged me to go stay overnight with a friend on higher ground. I did.
In the past, we have helped others mud out. We’ve listened to stories about losing pictures, medicines, eye glasses. Maybe because of what has happened here before, shock set in as I watched photos and videos on internet (we have no TV) of flooding in the flat lands.
As a former mental health counselor, I wonder, What can I say to comfort you? You have lost your home, your crop, your highway.
My eyes stay fixed on the White, now back in its banks and flowing past our house, but I think of you in rice/corn/soybean country where I once lived, where levees have broken, where towns are being evacuated, where county after county reports damages.
“It’s a big problem,” someone says, but it’s more than that. It’s a heart break. Losing your home breaks your heart. It means starting over somewhere, either where you are or somewhere else.
We had just come from Southaven, Mississippi, and Jonesboro, Arkansas, over the weekend. We came right down Highway 63, but we did not know to pause and take in your sweet rice fields (barely green) and precious towns. We did not know what was coming. It was raining but not yet flooding. Black River was high but had not yet broken the levee.
To the families in the flooded areas, to the farmers who must be overwhelmed, to those who will mud out or make sandwiches, I salute you. To start over is hard work. To look at devastation day after day is hard work, physically and emotionally.
Know that it may look like I’ve forgotten you as I drive to my grocery store or library, type blogs, participate in Cancer Awareness, attend a grandson’s graduation. But I have not forgotten you. I grieve with you. I hold you in my heart like I hold my friend whom I just lost. Know that I ask people everywhere I go to put you on prayer lists, and I lift you up to the One who loves us through everything.
Ann Voskamp says, “How we are is not who we are. How we feel is not how He (God) feels about us.” True.
The One who truly loves you will walk with you, help you, and love you through this tragedy.
With Him, you can face anything. Talk to Him. And listen....
Photo by Pat Durmon of the White River flooding, Norfork, AR, April 30, 2017.