Soaking in Our Past

Physical and emotional devastation in the wake of a flood.

Hello again dear Patchers.

It seems every week I make the same joke, if you are reading this you have successfully survived the weather system du jour. Yet every week it seems there is some storm aimed at our town.

Many of you reading this have probably had to go through your basements in knee high rubber boots trying to salvage whatever remained after the floods.

(Earlier: Check out Patch's coverage of July's historic rainfall)

Driving through town it is eerie to see ruined possessions lining the streets and draped over curbs. Rugs, chests, and miscellaneous boxes all discarded well before their intended time.

For some, this might just tie into my previous argument. For others, material possessions of great sentimental import were damaged in this week’s storms. And sadly for some, pets exactly drowned in the waters. My condolences.

I hope of all you affected by the rising waters, you find yourself in the first category. You may be aggravated that your stuff got wet and had to be hauled to the curb, but remember that it is just stuff. Stuff that you would have most likely eventually thrown away. Stuff that was being stored in the basement for a reason.

But I know that some of you lost more than mere possessions. I heard a story this week of a woman whose basement sat beneath five feet of water for several hours after the rains. As you can imagine, not much survives an evening long soak in five feet of dirty water. But the lost that affected this woman the most were the boxes containing the memories of her children’s youth; art projects and letters from camp and just little scraps that would mean nothing to anyone but a mother - all ruined.

As your basement floor becomes a wading pond it is near impossible to know what you should be pulling out of harms way. Most people instinctually go to save the most expensive or oldest item before it is too late. It is not until after the fact that the you find yourself trying in vain to use a hairdryer to restore a twelve year old macaroni art project to its former glory.

As difficult as it may be to hear, those priceless artifacts from when your children were all cute and little, are still just stuff. This isn’t one of those pointless at least no one was hurt kind of columns. All I am saying is that whether you have all these keepsakes in a box or not doesn’t change anything.

I am one of three children. Over the course of our adventures through District 39, my siblings and I constructed a ton of artsy-cutesy-priceless-sentimental crap. Recently it was all revisited while packing for a move. We discovered that many pieces didn’t survive long-term storage or the move.

Having lost a lot of the once precious materials seemed tragic, but later there was a sense that holding on to the tangible items was secondary. These aren’t pieces that have to be preserved for anyone else’s benefit but your own, and I trust that you will never forget the memories they represent even without that actual glob of glitter, construction paper, and excessive amounts of glue. And if you are really jonesing for some arts and crafts, just give it a few years and you’ll be inundated with all kinds of crap from your grandkids. Here’s to a successful drying out, and to hoping that we can string together a couple of lovely warm dry weeks before the school year hits.

Cheers, James


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