How are you after the Hell of Harvey
Don’t ask, don’t tell policy here
The sounds of walls being torn apart, boards being stacked outside buildings resounds. Every time I go for a walk reminders of the Hurricane’s destruction litter the streets of the parking lot. They try to get rid of the trash but there’s always more.
“How are you doing?”
I’ve come to flinch at this question overtly so. I’ve always hated this question, but it’s even more passionately since this Hurricane. Because you really don’t want to fucking know how I am.
When I decide to tell people they have this “oh shit” look on their face and scurry away from me. I shrug my shoulders and watch their retreating figure.
Even better is when they offer FEMA as a possible solution.
FEMA offered me a hotel for three days after I was already homeless for a week. Any FEMA hotel is already past vacancy that there isn’t any way to get in even if you needed to. There isn’t any money given or offered to me from any disaster fund, it’s all on me to rebuild things. People think that it can be used to help with the recovery of the 90% of my life that I physically lost. Maybe it’s doing more for others, but on my end, it’s a big nope.
My friend lost his car to this damn storm and is still messing with insurance to get things done.
It’s a process, a constant never ending thing where you wake up and you have more to face. My car seemed to be okay, the one thing that survived this. I was thankful for that, but it’s now making a noise like a screeching dead cat is caught inside somewhere.
Give and Take
It’s a give and a take, the good mixed with the overwhelming what the fuck else do I need to do? My little triumphs are a bed to finally sleep on after weeks of sleeping on the floor. Sheets on that bed a week or so after. My coworkers and friends offering to help me if I need it.
I get money offered to me. I need to move again after a month here. There’s so much to be done and replaced. I begrudgingly take it, but my pride cries out. My heart over swells with the kindness of others.
You can’t imagine my excitement at finally being able to have a small amount of pots, pans, plates and silverware to finally cook my own food. That first meal I’ve made in a month was amazing. I’m grateful every time I’m able to cook my own food because that was impossible for awhile.
My family keeps repeating the question of ‘there isn’t any water left, right?’ Well, yes and no, there’s areas that became rivers that… aren’t supposed to. And others that are bone dry.
You drive and see so much of people’s personal possessions strewn about on street corners. That’s how you can tell if the first level homes, like mine, were affected by the flood. It’s by the shit outside on the curbs.
I finally talked to my brother on the phone. He was pretty much shocked with everything that was taken, because even if it didn’t wind up in the water the air permeated and destroyed everything. It was a mixture of humidity, back flow, and the worst stench you can ever imagine in your life. That’s the smell of Harvey, and it reminds me of this every time I get in my car since the floor was flooded.
After Harvey I then had to worry about Irma because my family was in the pathway of it. They are okay, but they were constantly on my mind because they didn’t evacuate.
All you can do is keep moving forward. I’ve met people that have been affected by this and I give them the biggest damn hug I can. And I tell them how sorry I am that they lost their home too. Because to rebuild it just doesn’t stop.
I’ve been told that all the shit I lost is just possessions. It’s just ‘stuff’ as they like to remind me if they weren’t affected.
Yeah, I get it, but you don’t know what it’s like not to sit in a chair for days because you’re sleeping on the floor. You don’t get how your body aches sleeping on that floor and how an air mattress is fucking amazing.
This whole thing was just an experience where fear, anger, sadness, desperation and more festered within me. Making the perfect storm of not the best version of myself. I worried every day that I was in the vacant apartment I evacuated to that they might kick me out… and then where would I go?
The only things that I mourn are photos I know were taken by this Hurricane. Sentimental heirlooms that have been held generation through generation. I can buy a new bed to sleep in, but I can’t ever buy those things.
This has only made me that much more aware I don’t have control over a damn thing in this world. Enjoy it while you still can, love it fiercely, because anything can be pulled out of your fingertips. No matter how tightly you hold onto it. And the tighter you hold it the more it hurts to lose this thing.
Love as well as you can, and never regret a single interaction you’ve had. Because the day is only as good as what you make it to be each and every moment until it resets again.