One year ago this night, at this moment, I was upstairs with Beth in her home. We had fled the flood waters that had entered her home just minutes earlier. While her neighbors had flooded previously, never before had she. We watched throughout the day as the waters slowly rose and moved up the front walk and then finally into the house.
Almost last minute we set about putting as much up on shelves and counters as we had time to do. Lots of things were carted upstairs. Still, most of the downstairs was left to be submerged.
Oddly, the power did not go out- so we could gaze down from the balcony hallway and watch the water rise. I recall a power cord swaying in the water, and one pillow floating. The one pillow I missed in my haste to move things up high.
Then we went to bed. I’m surprised, now that I recall that night, that we were able to sleep. But sleep we did. For just a few hours. Awakened by a phone call from a neighbor across the street, we listened as he cautioned us not to go downstairs and touch the water – because since the electricity was still turned on, we could be electrocuted.
It was at that moment we knew fear- and we knew we were in danger.
I thought I was going to die that night.
A phone call to 911 brought no help. They were too busy to come. A call to the power company also brought no help.
Instead, a call to the Sr. Warden, brought about our rescue. Finding teenagers out in their kayaks waiting to rescue someone, he used one of the kayaks to lead one of the teenagers, along with a trolling empty kayak to the home. Muscling up incredible courage, he stepped into the flooded garage, and with his cellphone turned into a flashlight, he made his way to rear and pulled the circuit breaker to off. We were plunged into darkness.
He then came inside, call to us to come down the stairs. Wielding a flashlight, we slowly felt our way down the stairs, into the water, and out the back door. There we found a kayak-for-two awaiting us on the patio. Finding a floating lawn chair, we used it to climb in. Once secured in, the young man – his name was William – began to tow us to safety.
And with that floating motion, we both experienced unexpected peace. The kayak moved through the water with the quiet sound of the paddles. The water glistened. And we felt a calm wash over us. We experienced GRACE.
We were safe.
But not sound.
This past year has been such a challenge for Beth, and must less so for me. The rebuilding has taken over a year. In a few hours, the anniversary of being rescued will pass, but the anniversary of all the days that followed will last another 365 days.
Just as the water slowly crept up the front walk, so too, has the restoration crept to completion. And so too, has the restoration of our hearts and minds and souls found healing and renewal.