When we arrived at our destination off Olive Mill Road, I was struck by how quiet it was in the neighborhood we were assigned to. Not only did the silence grab my attention but also the emptiness of the homes and landscape. It was a little hard to comprehend. We soon walked up the street to our assigned property. The owner came out to greet us. Much to my surprise, I realized we had gone to high school together. We hugged and laughed that here we were, meeting up after 40 years, under these circumstances.
I told her how sorry I was for her loss. She told us all about the night the mountain came down and described what she and her mother went through. I was struck by her lightheartedness while telling her story. My eyes filled with tears as she continued and I couldn’t believe how she could talk of her experience without falling apart. Her story made me realize why I was there. I wanted to help someone in need.
Her home had a mud line about four feet high along the walls. Her hallway, bedroom, bathroom, dining room, and kitchen were engulfed in solid mud. We grabbed our shovels and got to work. None of the volunteers knew each other, but we worked in unison, shoveling, sorting and removing the mud. No one seemed to ever take a break. We were determined to get the job done. The owner walked around and kept our spirits up. Her positive attitude generated the mood throughout the work day.
After we had come back from lunch I continued working on clearing out the bathroom, now working with only one other volunteer. I was determined to finish; ny goal was to see it clear of mud. My husband was working in the hallway and he too did not want to stop until he saw his job complete. There is something that compels you to keep going, to see the end result. I was also never so happy to see a toilet! We really didn’t know where it was in the bathroom, so to finally find it was a good feeling! The end was in sight — for us, anyway. However, it was just the beginning for the owner.
We left muddy, sore, and tired but so thankful for the Bucket Brigade, which allowed us to help our neighbors in need.