Relocating under the very best of circumstances is never easy, but when you are forced to evacuate your home thanks to a river running through it, the urgency of the situation calls for a new game plan…and lots of rubber boots!
When flood waters from Clear Creek rose so high they flowed through Carmen Morris-Howard’s yard, cutting off access to her home on April 9, she wondered how she would ever be able to get back inside and retrieve her belongings. “I just wanted to get some of my important things out, like pictures and special stuff, but Cindy [Lane] said ‘no…let’s just get it all,’” said Morris-Howard.
Lane has been an invaluable resource for Morris-Howard, helping her with everything from a place to stay to coordinating the massive moving project.
After initial contact was made with Denise Bacon with the Red Cross, a plan was formed that would require a large group of volunteers who owned tall mud boots. “I didn’t think we would get so many people,” commented Bacon, who had spent the previous day helping to pack boxes in preparation for moving day. “It’s just awesome to see so many people willing to help.”
“I am just overwhelmed at this whole thing,” said Morris-Howard while she emptied the contents of her closet into containers and large plastic bags. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that everyone is here to help me.”
It was difficult to get an accurate head count, but it was estimated that about 50 people showed up wearing their tall mud boots, ready to empty the two-bedroom trailer house of its entire contents.
What’s the easiest way to pack a travel trailer with household items? Well that would be an assembly line of course! Helpers stood in the cold water and passed everything from bedding to small furniture from person to person until it reached the end of the line.
While Morris-Howard had already given up hope of being able to retrieve her major household furnishings, the volunteers had other plans and one by one, her appliances, bed, couch, and other furnishings made their way to storage units.
The scene looked like worker ants packing off sticks and twigs to the ant pile. A devoted group of people stayed inside the home, packing boxes from each room and placing them near the front door for their trip down the human assembly line.
Several Clearwater Valley students made quick work carting heavy appliances across the flowing waters, a feat much appreciated by the older help.
More volunteers appeared to help clean up outside debris and yard waste, a task happily done by a few children who made a game of sorting through the muddy remnants of planting pots and garden hoses while cheerfully stomping through the muddy pools.
A pillar of strength, Morris-Howard gracefully allowed a host of people into her home to salvage her things and try and make right what a raging creek tried to destroy.
“To all of you that took your time to support me and help in many ways despite the cold water and rescue my belongings, I sincerely wish to express my gratitude,” said Morris-Howard. “I could not name them all, but I don’t want to neglect to name the key people that spent days engineering the big move: Cindy Lane and family, Kristina Perry for taking care of my loving cat Pookey, Scott Geofrey, Mark Craig, along with a big crew of co-workers from the timber shop of the Clearwater National Forest, Scott from Freedom Northwest Credit Union, Denise Bacon from the Red Cross, and many others. I wish to express my sheer gratitude and thanks to all of you for turning one of the most devastating times of my life into an easy transition.”
Morris-Howard hopes to find a place in Kamiah to rent so she can be closer to her job and cannot wait to finally be reunited with her cat Pookey.