Sunday Reflections: This is what losing everything looks like
|Round 1 of losses in the 2011 flood.|
Before I lived in Texas, I lived in Marion, Ohio. In 2010, Marion County was declared the county with the highest poverty rate in all 88 counties of Ohio. And at the end of the month of February 2011, the county flooded. The night before we had received 12 inches of snow. The next night, we received a quick, stunning downpour of rain that melted the already 12 inches of snow. Between the frozen ground and the overload of precipitation, the water had no where to go. So this county that was already struggling to survive, these people that were struggling to work and eat and feed their children, lost almost everything in a flood.
At 4 o’clock that morning I awoke to a burning smell in my house and for some reason, I could tell it was coming from my basement. When I opened the basement door I could see that it was rapidly filling with water. And the water was electrified by a blue arc of light that was coming out of one of the electric sockets in my basement. When I opened the front door to begin evacuating my children, I saw waist high water rushing down my street. It was coming up on to my porch. I shut the door quickly as I tried to figure out how I was going to evacuate an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old through freezing, rushing water at 4 a.m. and make sure they stayed safe. It was in that moment that two men knocked on my door and asked if I needed help. One of the men tried to go to the basement to turn of the breakers so my house wouldn’t burn down, but when he stepped into the water it shocked him so the house was on its own. Then both of the men carried my daughters through the freezing water up onto a hill patch where we would be safe.
It was a terrifying experience. We lost 1/3 of our possessions, everything we had in our basement including a variety of books (gasp), my husband’s artwork and tools, children’s toys and more.
|Children’s toys, Christmas decorations and more float in 3 feet of water the day after|
I tell you all of this because this past week, the county had flash flooding again, the second time in a little over 3 years. In fact, they have had very few dry days in 2013. Once again these people who are trying to barely survive in a county where so many of the children are on free or reduced lunch (over 80%) will have to find a way to restore homes, replace lost items, refill refrigerators that are now empty because of power outages.
I have lived for 40 years now and it definitely seems that we are seeing a huge rise in the number of natural disasters and their devastating impacts on the lives of the people that they touch. Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes, Flooding. In the past 3 years alone my life has now been touched twice by tornadoes and now twice by flooding. And when you are barely scraping by under normal conditions, any type of disaster can end it all for you. I have also had 3 friends try (two of them were successful) to end their lives in the last 3 years due to extreme financial circumstances.
So why TLT? When my house flooded in 2011, my husband was already working in Texas and came home occasionally when he was off. In June of 2011 we moved the kids here so we could be together as a family and I knew it would be hard to find a new job because I knew what was happening in the economy. I did find a job, but I now work part-time with no benefits because even libraries are resorting to this tactic more and more to reduce their expenses. There are man highly educated and experiences workers out there living paycheck to paycheck, with no benefits or retirement, wondering how they will fill their pantry and help their children go to college. And so I blog. I blog because I care about libraries and books and people. I blog because I believe that in doing so, I can help my three loves: libraries, books and people. I blog because I want people to understand and remember what it is like to be a teenager, what it is like to live in and surrounded by poverty. I blog because I want to encourage us all to do the right thing and help each other out. I blog because I hope one day, in some small way, my words might make a small difference and touch even one life.
In the last few years a lot of people have lost everything. I can tell you what it looks and feels like because I am one of them.
I realize this is not the happy 2 year anniversary post that you were expecting, and I apologize. But this is the reality of so many of the lives of the people we live by, serve, and talk to on a daily basis. When we take a moment to understand what they may be going through, it can change our perspective, which is part of the reason we advocate reading. Thank you for reading my blog, for reading this post, and for letting your heart be open to the reality of the world we are living in. Thank you for this opportunity to share, on a daily basis, my passion.
So why EgmontUSA? Egmont was one of the first publishers to work with me. EgmontUSA was the first sponsor of the first ever It Came from a Book Teen Art Contest. They were there at the beginning, so we are celebrating with them now. They publish the stories that help soothe us in the worst of times, remind us to think of others, and help us all be good at our jobs.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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