Message for Houston flood victims: My house was once under 9 feet of water, too. Here’s how you hold on to hope

I can still remember the adrenaline reaction when I saw our home under 9 feet of water on the networks news. That was over 30 years ago, but as I watch the destruction that flood victims in Texas and Louisiana are experiencing, I know there are devastated families behind each image, and they are facing, not weeks, but years of recovery.

Our home, community and church were flooded when a levee broke in Marysville, California in 1986.

I know the unsettling feeling that many in Houston are facing today as they wait to get back into their homes. And I know that within a few weeks the streets that are now flooded will start looking like a war zone, as the ruined belongings of a lifetime are put out on muddy curbs in a mix of ripped up flooring and wallboard waiting to be picked up.

We learned that the recovery from a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Harvey, would not be measured in months, but in years. There were four simple truths we needed to quickly learn to maintain hope during the recovery, and I pass them along as encouragement to victims and volunteers alike.

1. We found hope in the gifts that were given.

When a crisis hits thousands of homes, your gifts will bring hope. In our case, we found hope when a single woman gave up her apartment to give our young family a place to live as we rebuilt our home, when a truck that brought meals to the workers became the highlight of the day, when a church replaced my pastor’s library, and in knowing that thousands who were not there had given to help in the recovery. 

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