In an effort to meet my chosen resolution to up my blogging for 2016, I wanted to answer an #oklaed challenge. Little did I know that the first one of 2016 would hit me right in the feels.
See, I’m a fairly recent transplant to OK. My family was one of the founding immigrant families in St. Louis, MO. From Dogtown & Tower Grove Park, to Spanish Lake & (most recently) Eureka, my rather big extended family has rooted themselves into the fabric of that city’s growth. While I’m enjoying my new home in Oklahoma, STL still spells “home” & we bleed Cardinal red and Blue Note blue, not Crimson (OU) or Orange (OSU)…at least for now.
This past week, my hometown experienced a catastrophic level of flooding – 12 inches of rain over a short time led to nearly 40 feet of flood water. Record levels that even the “experts” couldn’t quite predict. Or prevent.
I felt helpless watching the news and social media coverage of rising flood waters as they crept up to and over the businesses and homes of people I knew. I was frustrated as my plans to come back and help friends and former neighbors evacuate areas never meant to flood were thwarted as Interstate 44 closed outside of Springfield, Rolla, Fenton…and Eureka. I was in near constant contact with my brothers and my best friend since grade school regarding their ability to access their homes…and in Lori’s case, I prayed the train tracks next to her historic home in Pacific, MO would act as a levee. She was lucky – they held back for her what wasn’t held back from my niece’s home just blocks away.
As what I saw unfold via text & social media became state, then national, then international news I saw story after story of these people I grew up with banning together. #EurekaStrong, #OnceALionAlwaysALion, & #PTown were sayings-turned-hashtags that have been used before to describe the sense of community for this collection of small towns a few miles west of the larger city of St Louis. But this time it felt different. This time, I was 350 miles away & stuck. This time, I read about my former teammates showing up in droves to help clean up my former coaches’ home, about how the guy I sat next to in Mr. Robinson’s Chemistry class at Eureka High School back in 1997 was offering to show up with his truck to whomever needed help evacuating, and I read posts where my former co-workers were offering to put up evacuees and those who couldn’t get to their homes. This was their town and they were ready to care for those who live in it.
Then the waters receded and the help…expanded. Fox High School was so overwhelmed with donation that they had to cut themselves off as a donation site. Communities dealing with flood devastation, but had clean water, sent pumper trucks to neighboring communities with contaminated sources. Businesses that had started in these town but had moved on were back to help with the clean-up of their former neighbors while other businesses opened their door to feed and resupply the volunteers.
I had found my word for the challenge. My #OneWord – Community.
Because no matter what gets thrown their way, these towns bounce back. Stronger than ever, because they know that the whole is stronger when its parts work together.
“You show up”.
Funny. It was only a few months ago when I used that phrase I heard so often growing up to explain my offer of help to a new coworker dealing with the loss of a parent. She was surprised at my offer to come over and cook/clean. To me it was simple. That’s what we do in my home town – we show up.
As 2015 closed and 2016 is dawning, I want that feeling for #oklaed. I think we’re still young but we certainly know that the community test is here (hello budget/teacher shortage/etc.). I believe we have the talent and the heart – I see that same look in my fellow educators’ eyes that I see when I run into the folks of my hometown. You’re ready to grab your gear – you know it’s time.
So many well known #oklaed bloggers have written some really elegant, well researched, and content specific blogs on the issues Oklahoma is facing in 2016. No way am I ready for that level, but I can offer a #OneWord goal.
Community – because when the *stink* hits the ceiling, this group knows…you show up.
Chicken Little Out