I took this photo with permission from the incredible young woman standing beside the tree, with hope that it will get someone’s attention – and some desperately needed help for her.
This is the mobile home she had been renting, and what you are looking at is huge tree that had fallen right through the center of it – directly onto her young son’s bedroom – literally splitting the structure into two halves. You are looking at the “inside” of the center of her home. When the storm approached, she was alert enough and quick enough to snatch her son from his bed only moments before it fell, saving his life. Miracle.
One half of the structure has no roof – and there is rain in the forecast. She is living in the other half a good part of the time, relying on the generosity of friends at other times, and working to find affordable new housing. But like so many others, I know she is still functioning in a state of shock – shaken, upset, and often barely holding it together. Most of what is left of her belongs are damaged beyond recovery, scattered across the hillside.
Here we are – almost 7 days later. There is no power, no water, and her landlord is demanding that she vacate and remove her few remaining possessions from the property within the week … and she has to climb over this damn tree every time she enters or exits. It is just beyond ridiculous. She cannot find anyone to help her get this behemoth removed. We can bring her meals, batteries, diapers and bottled water – but we can’t get the stupid tree out of her way.
And this is only one desperate story of hundreds I have heard over the past few days.
We’re doing out best out in the RedCross vehicles from 10 and 13 hours a day, bringing hundreds of hot meals, emergency supplies (as we have them), and as much comfort and consolation as we possibly can. And there is just not enough. We start making friends, we learn the names of the family dogs, we hear and see the unbelievable; we hug, we laugh, we cry.
Yet I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated as the days pass – mostly over the mind-boggling absence of coordination and horrible logistics planning among the gazillion number of churches, organizations, schools, relief agencies and everyone else who has the best of intentions (I truly believe this), but seem to be operating in nothing short of barely-organized chaos. (And yes, I well-remember Katrina, and I know this is nothing compared to that mess). I realize that no one is perfect, and the scope of this disaster is extraordinary for this area. But unbelievably, there is almost possessive in-fighting among various groups, over who should/shouldn’t be handling this or that – and to me, that is completely unacceptable in a situation as dire as this one. It helps no one, and it must change.
At the very, very least, we need to get this tree out of this poor woman’s way. She doesn’t care who does it – it just needs to get done. (Insert expletive).