Under Water and Downed

The Great Flood: an Inclusion Story – by Lydia Taylor

During the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home.  I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about and besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep.  At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway.  She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating.  Initially I thought, is it that serious?  Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag.

I was visiting, so my bags were readily available.  It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.   As I got into the back seat of the truck I noticed that there was a ladder propped against the roof of the carport.   The situation appeared to be worse than I thought.  After a few minutes the door next to me opened, and I was handed the next-door neighbor’s dog and told we must evacuate her also.  No problem, I love dogs. Within the next few moments we were driving up the hill to higher ground with the next-door neighbors, from both sides, following in their vehicles.

Before we go any further, allow me to raise this question:  If someone were to ask you, ‘what is the most important social issue in this country’, what would you answer?    Well, that is the indirect topic of this article.

The parent’s house is in the Sandy Harbor subdivision in Horseshoe Bay, Texas which is in Llano county. It is located between two low water crossings and along Lake Lyndon B. Johnson.  Here is the dilemma they faced. Should we wait too long we would be stuck; and faced with the high probability of flooding from the lake overflowing its banks.  On the other hand, if we evacuate there was no way to determine how long it would be before we could safely return to their home.  At the time of our escape, the low water crossing at the entrance of the subdivision was well above the level for safely driving through it.  The low water crossing in the opposite direction was quickly becoming unsafe as well.

Therefore, we made haste, passed through that low water crossing and drove to the home of a couple whose house is on much higher ground.  Not only are they neighbors, they are longtime friends of my parents.  Upon arrival the couple was standing on their deck like porch to greet us and the other neighbors arriving at their home.  As I approached, our hostess greeted me very warmly.  Mind you, I did not know her and had never seen her before.  Yet there she was with a hug and genuine concern for my safety.  As we entered their home, with wet shoes, clothes and raincoats, there was no concern voiced about getting the floor wet or the neighbor’s dog coming into their home.  On the contrary, we were invited to make ourselves comfortable.

Breakfast was offered and then prepared.  It was served buffet style and the atmosphere was extremely welcoming.   Afterwards, we took a walk in the rain to check on the well being of other neighbors and on the status of the low water crossing we came through earlier.  We found it to be filled with water and it was clearly unwise to go through it again, either way.  My tennis shoes were now soaked and upon returning to the home of our host and hostess I removed them.  She kindly offered me house shoes to keep my feet warm.  Next several of us played a domino game, of which I was unfamiliar, called chicken feet.  We laughed and had a great time socializing while the flooding was happening outside.

The individuals in this small representation of that neighborhood kept an eye on the rising lake and voiced concern for their property as well as that of their neighbors; but their demonstration of altruism for one another far outweighed those concerns.  There were many phone calls and text messages being sent and received to inquire about other neighbors.  Two of the group went out into the pouring rain to answer an emergency call.  Everyone was relieved to know there was no medical emergency involved.

By the way, did I mention that I am a middle aged African American woman and my parents are an interracial couple?  They are well known, respected and loved among their neighbors and in their community; but it was my first-time meeting those with whom I spent time on that cold and wet day.  Also, I learned that the gentleman who was staying next door to the parents was also a visitor in the neighborhood.

This article is indeed about inclusion and how I was made welcome among a group of people who look nothing like me and more than likely think differently about many things.  Greater still, it is a tribute to the spirit of humanity I beheld within each person I met.  They genuinely care about one another and the welfare of others.   This was not something simply verbalized, it was demonstrated in their actions.

Later that day, after the rain became a soft drizzle and the lake began to recede, we were able to return to the parent’s home.  I determined that I would tell others about the sharing and caring I witnessed in that small place within a very large universe.  It was a privileged to see it and know that since it exists there, it still exists.

That night, we slept peacefully with the ladder still propped against the roof over the carport.

Lydia Taylor

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