Wednesday, September 30, 2009

atlanta deployment: day 6

today i met an amazing couple.

here is their story:

meet dwaine and krystal mitchell
looking at this picture you would never know that in the last 30 days krystal has given birth to their second child, that they evacuated their flooding home by boat, or that they have lost everything they own; including both vehicles and their home.

it seems like everyone i meet from the smalltown of austell, ga is the same. they might loose everything, but as long as they have their families and their faith they are optimistic and very thankful for what they have.

theirs is an amazing story:
they were both home last monday with their children, ages 3 1/2 years and 1 month old, when sweetwater creek that runs behind their home started over flowing. the creek that is normally 3 feet rose to 30 feet that day. the rain started to raise about 1 ft every hour and before they noticed they were stranded in their home, not able to drive anywhere and with a newborn and toddler.

dwaine frantically dialed 911 and all of the city emergency numbers he could think of while krystal called out of town family and asked them to look online for people to call in town to help them. she also gathered up a few things in a suitcase for her and the kids.

eventually the fire department came by in a johnboat and told them they had to stop packing and get in now or they would have to come back. she handed her 3 year old daughter to the firemen, grasped her newborn baby as close to her chest as possible, stepped up on a chair and got into the boat. her 6 foot 9 husband was to large to get in the boat at the same time, so he had to wait for the next one.

he told me that it was then that he started realizing that the only things that mattered to him was what he was putting in that boat, 'his girls.' my heart absolutely ached imagining how hard it would be to put everything that means the world to you onto a boat in pouring rain and you couldn't go.

the boat did come back for him and their 10 year old cocker spaniel and it took them to a part of the neighborhood that hadn't flooded...yet. (he guesses that 140/180 homes did end up flooding) but getting off the boat was only the beginning of their adventure. after they got out of the boat they were put in a firetruck, that stalled out in the water and actually was leaking water into the cab of the truck. this is when krystal said she started to panic.

she said her toddler didnt shed a tear though. they said they have always preached to their daughter that things dont matter, they can be replaced. family is what matters...and that is all they have now.

they said they dont know what they will do with their home now since the housing market has decreased the value of their home, they have to weigh the risk of taking out more debt on a home that isnt worth what they once paid for it. this is what all of their neighbors are all going through, and since dwaine is the president of the neighborhoods homeowners association he also has a lot more on this plate.

'this is our reality,' dwaine said. 'we are all going through the same thing, we are just trying to help each other out.'

the mitchells were nice enough to give us a tour of what their home looks like now before they had a chance to even take anything out. the destruction of this flood always amazes me, everything was just pushed into the front room and piled up by the force of the rushing waters. it was very hard to watch their faces as they showed us their most precious memories ruined, their house literally caving in and the worry of what to do next.

it was nice to see how the red cross has been able to help him and his neighborhood. they thanked the red cross for all that they had done for not only his family, but his whole neighborhood. he hopes that help continues to come in for everyone now that the media is do i.

dwaine is 6 foot 9 and shows us how the water levels are over 10 feet tall (he can normally reach the bottom of a 10ft basketball hoop)

if you look real close at the front of their house you can see the waterline above the garage door

things are stacked higher than my pa friend kate

the neighbors back porch.

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