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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Neighborly help held community together

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I wasn't here June 7, 2008.

On that day, floodwaters ravaged the area, destroying roads, farmland, and much more.

And I wasn't here.

I was sitting in a hotel room in Knoxville, Tenn., preparing to attend a wedding.

I remember getting a phone call from one of our reporters talking of the devastation in the area.

But it was difficult to comprehend it all.

My fiance and I sat down in the hotel room after the wedding, watching the Weather Channel, which was giving a live feed from Terre Haute.

It just looked so surreal.

And to this day, it seems so surreal.

I remember only a few days after the flooding took place, a resident came to our office and explained in detail her ordeal.

She woke up that Saturday morning to the sound of massive storms.

In just one hour, close to 5:30 a.m., approximately two-and-a-half feet of water had found its way into her home.

She told The Times she received help from friends regarding sandbagging and at one point, four pumps were running water out of her home.

Only days after the flooding, The Times received several letters from residents explaining their ordeals as well. In those letters, those residents expressed their gratitude to others.

When my fiance and I were coming back through Indiana that day, everything seemed fine as we finally got onto Interstate-70.

We continued the jaunt from Indianapolis to Brazil, and everything again was fine.

Until we came to the exit for Monrovia.

We headed to United States 40 from there after seeing signs posted explaining how I-70 was closed at a certain point further down the road.

It didn't seem real at the time and still doesn't.

We headed west on U.S. 40 to our destination. I wasn't working that Sunday since we were gone for the weekend.

When we arrived in Clay County, things appeared normal.

On the surface.

But there was an eery silence that filtered through the air. Something didn't seem right.

Sure, U.S. 40 was backed up when we got to Brazil. My fiance, being from Clay County, suggested we take a back road on the north end. So we did.

Honestly, the land didn't seem all that saturated.

That weekend seemed like any other weekend.

Then I had an opportunity to see the devastation first-hand via photographs taken by Brazil Times' staff reporters.

They were unbelievable.

Residents walking down streets, wading through water waste-deep.

Cars submerged under water. The photographs seemed like they were taken in a third-world country.

It just didn't seem real.

And yet, only one day later, things appeared back to normal.

Although traffic was backed up on U.S. 40 that Sunday afternoon, the waters had receded.

As I headed to work yesterday, things appeared normal.

Other than the usual hustle and bustle of traffic, the flow on U.S. 40 was normal.

It wasn't like June 8, 2008.

Looking back on June 7, 2008, a part of me is glad I was not here to see such devastation.

But this community came together in that time of crisis and persevered.

All of us know June 7, 2008, will be a day we will all remember. Even if the day is not remembered fondly.

Still, residents of Clay County came together and helped others when needed.

As the days went by, letters poured in from readers across the county thanking their neighbors, thanking city and county officials and others for their help during the times of trouble.

For that one moment, people in the county came together.

I wasn't a homeowner then, but I am now.

I understand what neighborly help really means now. Just one year ago, I really didn't.

And for that, I am grateful.

For those moments where neighbors were helping others June 7, 2008, we should all be grateful.

Grateful we live in such a wonderful, neighborly place.

I know I am.