Weather is on the minds of most East Coast residents as we watch to see what Hurricane Florence will bring. Just as the drenching summer isn't over, neither is the rain here in Western Pennsylvania. Last Friday it started to rain, bringing much needed change after a week of blazing heat. Cool temperatures brought some relief and the rain comfortably settled in.
It just. didn't. stop.
On Monday the fire whistles were constant, and we started to hear about different streets that were beginning to disappear under water.
My school district is a river town situated between two sizeable rivers and crossed with streams and creeks. About half of the families who belong to my two schools live along one of those rivers, and on Monday one parent after another came to pick up their child, fearing that the buses wouldn't be able to make it by dismissal time. Fast decisions had to be made about where to send our kids, how to dismiss and when, and what we would do to keep our kids, staff and neighbors safe. We knew the flooding was happening, we just didn't understand the extent of it until we turned on the news.
These are my people. I've been in this district since 1995 and know so many of the families. My kids live in these houses. My old kids have kids here.
It felt so helpless.
Tuesday we knew we had to do something. School was in session and after conference calls with our police, Red Cross, and Township Emergency Supervisor, we were ready to launch a collection. By Wednesday morning we had a few truckloads of bleach, gloves, water bottles, sponges, mops, and generous donations from our families. Our Maintenance Director and assistant, our superintendent and assistant superintendent, and a few other principals gathered the supplies and headed out to the areas most suffering.
I arrived first at one of the homes in the first picture. They were so happy to see a familiar face and we caught up on what had happened all around them. Within a few minutes the guys arrived and dug in to help them carry water logged cabinets and belongings out of the basement. The day went on with stops, supply drops, hearing stories, giving hugs of support, and seeing faces I hadn't seen in years. Many folks asked for nothing more than a water bottle. Not a case. A bottle. They wouldn't take too many items because they wanted them to be available for "the others". There was such appreciation and kindness.
We discovered a colony of cats in one neighborhood.
This is the unofficial president of said association. He was wise and offered greetings. There were many, many cats in this caboodle. Thirsty and hungry they all decided to indulge their curiosity with a visit. By the end of the day I found a reputable organization to offer some assistance to this paw patrol.
I found old kids, now 35. Taking care of business, but stopping long enough to share a memory and kind word about our time in class.
Our families are beginning to dry out and make sense of what remains...just in time for Flo to decide her wrath.
I'm praying that the rains hold off and our neighborhoods will be spared. Our people are tired. Regardless of what happens though, we will work through it.
If you would like to offer support to our families feel free to message me for information.