I have never used this forum to do something non-food-related. Granted, I generally spout off about any random topic, but it usually ends with a recipe somewhere. I’m not going to do that today. Mostly because I’ve been lucky to get hot dogs on the table lately (Boil or grill, put in a bun, and serve with ketchup and mustard). In the last week, the lives of our family and many of our friends have been turned upside down by the historic flooding from Tropical Storm Lee. Our hometown of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania was inundated with water from the Susquehanna River and Fishing Creek. The area is used to periodic flooding — there are no levees or flood walls to protect the town. But, you have to go back to 1904 to see water levels this high. It was higher than Agnes in 1972. My in-laws home has never had a drop of water even near it, and they had about 3-4 feet of water on their first level.
We went to Bloomsburg last weekend to bring donations and help our family. The town is decimated. We read this morning that 1000 homes were *destroyed* in our county alone. 2300 other homes were badly damaged. Homes were ripped off foundations and sucked into flood-caused sink holes. I can’t convey the level of damage. The mud and water-soaked contents of people’s homes line the streets as far as you can see. Roads were washed away. People were wandering the streets covered in mud. The National Guard closed off the most badly destroyed areas to maintain safety and prevent looting. I guess people were trying to get scrap metal — because there certainly wasn’t much else to take.
Yet, the story has barely been a blip on the national media radar. I guess we got ourselves too hyped up for a Water World scenario with Hurricane Irene and New York City, but no one is paying attention to this massive natural disaster and what will become a growing humanitarian crisis for thousands of people who have no homes to go back to. To further complicate the issue, the only local newspaper is behind a paywall, so images and stories are not being shared in the open web via social media and RSS.
If a story happens behind a paywall, do people know?
So, I’m posting this to bear witness. And I am hoping that you pass this along to those you know, so we can help the town start the long process of rebuilding. Also, I would hope the blogging community would spread this more widely within your own circles. Donations are desperately needed for many organizations. Unfortunately, the best way to send money is via check to the local office, so the money goes directly to this effort. If you are close by, consider taking a drive in to help out for the day, make some cupcakes for the firemen/women and first responders, or bring some donations. Cleaning supplies, rubber boots, and masks are needed to help the volunteers (townspeople and many college students from Bloomsburg University) who are literally scooping sewage and chemical-laced mud out of peoples’ homes.
Please consider giving.
Wesley United Methodist Church (serving food and the home of several relocated preschools, also where I was married and my kids were baptized)
And I promise I’ll never talk about sewage here again.