When you see miles and miles of devastated landscape–you get desensitized to it quickly. After all, it is just stuff.
But is the people who really impact you. It is their faces that you remember, that drive you forward to keep shoveling. You are helping them.
The only people we met that were impacted by the hurricane were the homeowners of our house, Joe and Karen, and their son, Shawn. It was through their story that we understood the impact of what had happened in New Orleans. It was their house that had 12 feet of water in it for a month. It was their cat that they had hurriedly left behind and was still missing. It was their neighborhood of 28 years that was deserted. It was their daughter who had to move hours away to find a job.
When we arrived, Joe was striding about in his rubber boots with a upbeat attitude. Shawn was inside shoveling. Karen was outside, picking through the pile of mud and debris, looking for anything that was not destroyed. I donâ€™t know how she did it, but she did this task with daintily with a gracefulness I have always lacked. It was heartbreaking to me. What must it be like to see everything that youâ€™ve ever owned and cared about muddy and moldy?
She had been in the house, but I donâ€™t think she could bear much of it. It was just too nasty. Too hard. Too sad.
The amazing thing, however, that I observed was that their spirits lifted in parallel with the progress of the house. It was like we were cleaning the bitterness and loss out of these people as we shoveled the muck out of their house. Shovel by shovel, we saw progress. By the last day, they joined us in the house to finish the clean-up. They smiled and laughed. We were able to powerwash most of the house, but, to our disappointment, we ran out of time to finsh. When we apologized to Karen, she replied back, â€œDonâ€™t worry about it. We can finish up whatâ€™s left.â€
Thatâ€™s what I feel the best about…helping these people get back on their feet.