How do I describe it?
Today was truly one of those days that reminds me why I do it. Why I take off, with no warning, leaving my friends and family behind, to head off to the next disaster. Why I put up with disorganization, frustration, strange hotel rooms, strange roommates, and less-than-ideal circumstances.
Today, the citizens of Lyons, Colorado were FINALLY being allowed back into their devastated small mountain community in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. My partner and I went early so that we could be there when they came in, and after going through the National Guard checkpoint, we found the other Red Cross volunteers who were waiting with supplies, tools, snacks and water.
Soon, they came. The people came. And words cannot do justice to what I saw today, and what emotions I experienced.
We sat back and just observed at first, as we didn't want to disrupt the reunions taking place..as friends, neighbors, coworkers - reunited with each other after not seeing each other for two weeks. Some didn't know if others had survived...so there were hugs, tears of joy, and literally, dancing in the streets. I cried for them, and I cried with them, as they all attempted to tell us what it had been like...the uncertainty, the not-knowing, the frustration, and the fear.
It was amazing. It was restorative. It was hopeful.
It made me so proud to be a part of this...to see the determination and resilience on the people's faces...as they checked on each other and began making plans on how to rebuild their town.
Not even a flyover by Vice-President Joe Biden in a low-flying helicopter could interrupt the hugging and talking going on...he didn't even rate a glance from the town, as they could only focus on each other.
A few photos:
This lady insisted on taking me for a short tour, to show me where the bridge USED to be...and now it's gone, as well as the road behind her...
I talk with a city employee of Lyons, who tells me her amazing story of survival and rescue during the flooding....
A retired 911 dispatcher from the city came by to not take anything, but just to thank the Red Cross for being there....
That small park behind the ERV was soon full of people...a neighborhood block party like no other....
There's no better feeling than knowing you're helping people after a disaster...it's not about the stuff, but about the hope....
This is what it's all about, folks. This is what it's all about.
Neighborhoods. Community. Support. Love. Hope.