This picture is my mom's neighborhood. I don't know how many of our possessions are floating in that water but I guarantee several are. Yes, there's water under all that debris and trailers. While hers still has a roof and some walls, I think that's all she's going to be left with. She can't cover insurance deductibles of $4500.
My mother has had a rough life for the past 20 years at least. She's had numerous back surgeries due to a fall, none of which worked. Being just shy of qualifying for disability not because of condition but time worked - I mean it was months - she and my dad had to continue on with his income. Then he was diagnosed with leukemia and the trips up north had to stop. Mom was on her own down in Florida, caring for him and he for her as best he could. I've also been disabled (& also short of time needed for disability coverage by a hair) for most of that so have been unable to help. Dad passed a couple of years ago and she's been left only clinging to her faith since. She's a very devout Christian and if you ask her a passage of the Bible, she knows it. She writes Christian poetry on her good days, though not for profit.
ENTER IRMA. Getting her to evacuate was not easy. I coaxed her to keep moving up 3 separate times and finally got her into Georgia. That first weekend I searched frantically online for some signs of the house they shared together, and passed along anything I found about any location or people to others who were searching for info. I'm so thankful for the wonderful people I've met from that time and since who've also been impacted by this monster of a storm. Some were her neighbors. Her house is in the picture shown - one of if not THE hardest hit areas in Marathon. I believe on day three I found this as well as other aerial shots. My mom and I felt elated when we saw her roof standing. That was a phone call I will never forget. She and I are both the type to feel strongly for others' pain, so it's not like it made everything better but for that moment it was just joy.
AERIAL SHOTS DON'T TELL THE WHOLE PICTURE.
I had the horrible task of informing her two days ago of what I'd already known for a couple of days from her neighbor whose house was also destroyed. Her house had flooded. The door had caved in, allowing the rush of at least 2 feet if not more of water to come in, dragging a thick muck of seaweed and debris of all sorts with it. The back of her property, being right on a canal, was destroyed. I'd gotten her a hot tub years ago to help with her muscles. That's gone. We can't tell if there was contact with a trailer that was pushed up from down the street, but it's right up against it and still there to this day. Mom had said she'd wanted to wait to get down there to see for herself so didn't want to be told anything. So I sat on it, tormented about what to actually do as the days of her covered hotel stays were running out, but then after talking to the grounds' manager who said he needed to talk to her about it, I had no choice. I was also running into roadblocks with FEMA and eventually was told they couldn't speak to me due to the privacy act. So all in one shot I was going to have to break her heart and ask her to have strength beyond herself, without breaking down myself so that she'd possibly have some positivity. THAT was another phone call I'll never forget, although I wish I could.
We discussed her insurance policies after that, and while they did have it along with the high premiums that come with it down in the Keys, I horrifyingly heard the high deductibles and low coverage she had. I'd also been hearing how little FEMA was being able to offer and knew how much difficulty we'd been having getting assistance. She wanted to rush right back down there. However, I couldn't go with her to be of help as much as I wish I could... and we each have Fibromyalgia as well as back / neck issues, so it's not like there's physically anything we can do ourselves. There's no sewer, the water is sporadic and not drinkable, electricity may not be there for her and it's too hot to sleep in a tent if we could have a section of the debris cleared away by the house enough to fit one in. Staying in a shelter won't work with her back and she's terribly allergic to scents. She doesn't really even get by with my dad's social security and is supplementing off of the small insurance settlement received years after the fall. That had to last her the rest of her life as it was, without this nightmare. Somehow we will have to hire someone to do the job, IF it can even be repaired. FEMA says they can't get into the area to inspect it. We have been alotted $1600 in rental assistance, but the funds have not hit her account and I've been told some people are still waiting these two weeks later. Any coverage for the home and repairs wouldn't be received until after the coming piddly insurance payment - FEMA won't pay out whatever they're going to until at least ten days after that.
Yes, I've offered for her to come up and stay with me in my one-bedroom apartment. However, I also understand her desire to stay in the area she's called home for over 30 years, surrounded by the memories she and my dad made together. She's also a surprisingly independent person and I know she doesn't want to feel a burden on me in any way. My situation is tenous as well, so I can't really push the issue with a lot of vehemence.
Anyway, I'm turning to you... whomever you are and whomever you choose to share this with. I don't even know if she'd be happy I'm doing so, but I don't see another way. Our family has suffered so much, you've not even been told the half of it. We plow ahead, she and I, living a thousand miles apart. What family does remain has either strains of their own or just has gone off and done its own thing. Her sisters didn't even contact me to see how she is, what happened, if they can help or anything... and I took care of their mother / my grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimers / Dementia for several years. So suffice it to say, we don't have a lot of family to turn to. The ones we do have truly cared and I love them for it, but financially it's not going to make an impact.
In looking for a better picture today, I for the first time was able to see the other side of her house in a video and now fear that a big chunk of it may have been blown out. So I'm sorry for the poor picture quality, but I've reached a new level of sadness today. I think whatever you could give, however you could share this, would make a world of difference in her life and mine from this point forward. Just knowing people care enough to help, whatever amount you can do or however you can - I'd love to be able to lift her spirits so that she doesn't feel so alone.
Blessings to all.
Patty's daughter, Christine
- Kim Gearhart
- Jonnie Weeks
- Nicole and David
- Ronna Martino