Now here is Ann's commentary:
Every life event is full of stories. Our Harvey experience starts with preparation. We were out of town taking our daughter back to RPI for her fall semester and returned home the day before the storm hit. We know our neighborhood was susceptible to flooding so we moved books and everything that we could lift 18 inches off the floor and settled in to wait.
The water came in fast. We were laying in bed trying to get some rest and within what seemed like moments the bed was floating around our bedroom.
Refuge part one: We decided to go up into our attic. Our home is a 1950's house with a simple pull down ladder for attic access. We hauled water, flashlight, peanut butter, and toilet paper up. Then Pat, my husband who will be 70 in a December, lifted my 80 pound service dog up the ladder. So much love. Our four cats also went up high and dry.
The water kept coming up.
Our attempt to evacuate was next. We were afraid we would be trapped in our attic. We had taken a hammer with us in case we needed to make a hole in the roof but what could we do with our animals?
The bed was still floating around in our bedroom so we flipped it onto its side and walked it out into the front yard. The water was up to my neck and so cold and dark. You could see nothing but brown. We had to try and feel our way along but it seemed that each step was a controlled stumble. Pat tired our bed to the oak in our front yard. We grabbed nonskid shelf liner and made a pad for our animals. Doubled up two cats in one carrier and two other small carriers. My service dog was perfect. She sat still and tried to keep her eyes on me and balance herself.
We had no idea how bad things were. Our raft made it four houses toward what we thought be safety and the water turned to whitecap rapids. The raft flipped. My incredible husband found the strength to grab all three carriers but the cats were being submerged and we worried they were drowning. The next moment we were worried about us drowning.
Rescue and Refuge Part Two:. Pat and I were both yelling! The water was carrying us away. At that moment a kayak and a inflatable boat come up our street. They grabbed Pat and two of our cat carriers. One was swept away. I could not swim against the current. As I am swept along I see my dog struggling to hold on to the top of a bush. I can't help anyone.I feel ground under my feet and start moving to higher ground away from the center of the street and was able to pull Pi along with me.
The couple truly saved our lives and the lives of our remaining pets. They deposited us on the steps of a vacant house built high enough that the water only lapped against the top step. They could not carry us out but did come check on us repeatedly over the next few hours. We cried, held each other, and waited. Called 911. They said they would help when they could (they called back about 16 hours later to see if we were ok).
Out and dry. Friends showed how much they care when you are at your most desperate. We have friends that live at the very edge of we're the water stopped in our neighborhood. While the water lapped against their front door Allen when to a house down the street where he knew there was a boat. That boat belongs to a guy named Kansas. And Allen made sure Kansas came and got us.
I can not describe the feeling of a perfect stranger putting their life at risk for you. The feeling of safety as you are settled into a seat holding your loved one and your remaining pets. Kansas puicked up two other families on the way to higher ground. The ride out was filled with the raw stories of the loss of others.
Then safety. Allan and Joanna welcomed us into their home. No questions, no requirements. They shared their home with us for a month.
During this time we have seen the best of people. Complete strangers have walked into the door of our home and offered their time and kindness. Strangers have driven down our street offering warm food. We did not know there was so much caring in the world. A woman stopped us at the hardware store and asked how we were doing. Said she has help clean out our house. How do you say thank you?
Now we are trying to rebuild a home. This has been our life for 23 years. It has been, until now, our safe spot. Now there is only a shell left. We are asking for the financial support to rebuild. Yes, we have insurance. No, flood insurance does not bring you back to your starting point. Please help us to have our time in a place we have grown and lived and raised a child in. Our nest.
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