Crisis Counseling in the Central Texas Floods of 2015
Today was a very somber, humbling day.
The morning started off normally. The kids watched cartoons while I cleaned up around the house. I started some laundry, and I watered some plants. Then, I got the kids dressed in their swimsuits for a birthday party we would be attending. Simon and Grace were super excited because it was a pool party! Plus, Granny was coming over! My mother-in-law was going to help me watch all three kids during the pool party, and then she would be babysitting for me while I went to work in the afternoon. Our normal morning stretched in a fun afternoon as we laughed and splashed at the pool. The weather was perfect outside for a relaxing time in the water. After the party, Granny settled in for babysitting while I got dressed for work.
This was the first time I got went to work wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a pool-sleek ponytail with no makeup on.
My day wasn’t normal anymore.
Normally, I dress up nicely for my job as a counselor. I try to look professional.
But today I was asked to dress down – to dress way down. Because today I was doing crisis counseling.
Central Texas has been blasted by rainstorms for the last few weeks. All the rain has saturated the soil, and flooding has become an imminent and common threat. Two nearby cities, San Marcos and Wimberley have experienced devastating floods. People have died, many have been rescued by boat or helicopter, and hundreds have been displaced from their homes. Some have no homes to return to! Just last weekend, the river near our church chapel rose 40 feet and flooded over two interstate/highway overpasses.
This afternoon I drove down to San Marcos for crisis counseling efforts. I was amazed when I walked into the charity location to see how many people were volunteering their time, money, and goods to serve their fellow neighbors. Compassion and love were everywhere in that room. Yet, the stories I heard were heart-breaking:
I helped a young mother sort through piles of donated clothing to find her 6yr old son clothes that would fit him. I marveled as she described being rescued out of their apartment window by a boat. Their entire apartment was soon underwater, and they lost everything.
I spoke with another woman whose husband died four years ago, and the struggle to rebuild alone, without his support, was a heavy burden to bear. Losing her home resurfaced all the grieving pain of losing her husband.
Despite the destruction, I saw an outpouring of gratitude.
“They’re just things,” people consistently said about their lost possessions. “We have our lives. Material things can be replaced.”
One woman brought me to tears when she described her guilt at accepting any kind of help from the charity. She reported she gave away all the food in her home to other families “who needed it more,” even though her own home was destroyed by the flooding. She was so worried that others might need help more than herself. With tears of guilt she accepted the gift card I gave her, and I had to console her that she was also worthy of the help we offered. What an inspirational and compassionate person!
It felt freeing to open my heart to such compassionate service. There were no bounds set on the help. It didn’t matter how great or small the damage was that someone reported. Everyone received a gift card. Everyone was allowed to sort through the donated clothing piles to find outfits for their families. Everyone was able to eat at the charity and take food home to their friends or family members.
It was an honor to volunteer for these flood victims.
If you have free time to spare, contact your local ecclesiastical leaders and ask how you can help with the relief efforts in San Marcos and Wimberley, Texas.
Although not in my area, Houston, Texas was also affected by damaging flood waters. They’ll need help too.
Read here for ways you can help.