Sorry it’s taken me so long to update. I have been couch bound while recovering from knee surgery for the last 11 days. I’m beginning to get up and at ’em, but my body still feels like it needs sleep. More on that in a different post, though.
From a flood/recovery stand point, it appears as if things are still at a stand still at my grand parent’s house. They are currently waiting on the local government to decide whether any areas will have to raise their houses. If that happens, their recover efforts will take a big hit. The early calculation is that it would cost approximately $20K per foot to raise the house, and with the flood stage hitting their house at just under 5 feet, that would cost them anywhere from $100K or more just to raise the foundation. This makes even the idea of rebuilding a lingering question at this point. More to follow on that.
A little farther down south, and my parents are currently in the cleanup/ rebuild process. They will not be required to raise their house. So, that’s been a saving grace, at least. They finally got the house dried and the insulation put back up. Some drywall is up, and they hope to finish this week. I’ll add those pictures once complete. The “trash pile” which contained 20-30 years of possessions was finally picked up yesterday. Though it’s sad to see everything officially gone, my parents can finally stop looking back when they see that pile and start looking forward. My mom reports that the sandbags are slowly but surely coming up. It’s a work in progress, but it is progress.
I’m sure the updates will be slower in the coming weeks, but I will continue to update until things are complete. Thank you all for your concern, prayers, donations, and thoughts.
I never wanted this to be about me. Without the media, though, the size and scope of what this became would not have happened. So, thank you to Ashley Cullinane at CBS4 Local, KFOX-TV, KTSM El Paso Proud, and now 24th Press Camp for getting the message out there. We were able to fill a 17 foot truck on the first haul and a 20 foot truck on the second haul. I cannot express just how much this meant to my family, friends, and community. The Fort Bliss and El Paso communities have been beyond amazing.
A few more thanks need to go out to Christopher Moore with Embattled Warriors, Joe McIntyre, the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, Lisa Aurich and the employees at Sport Clips El Paso – The Fountains at Farah, St. Michael’s Catholic Community on Fort Bliss, Tia Cindi Sarabia Alvara and the El Paso Executive Women’s Lions Club, and the multitude of family and friends who gave us donations. There are so many that I can’t name them all. Kind of like a Grammy speech….. you know who you are. 😉
This recognition shouldn’t be mine…. this should be everyone who contributed.
Thank you all so very much for your generosity and loving spirits. God Bless You, All!
A special thanks goes out to my wife, Cecilia Sarabia-Wilkinson. Thank you for your love, support, and reaching out to everyone you know. Thank you for not getting too mad when I had to move your car out of the garage. LOL.
I am very blessed to be around so many incredible people!
Second truck is loaded. 2nd round of donations will be in St. Amant tomorrow. I have toys, clothes, washer dryer, table, couches, etc.
Hitting the road!
I picked up some donations from Lisa Aurich and her fellow employees from SportClips at The Donations of Farah this afternoon. The generosity shown from everyone in El Paso after leading of the circumstances of my small hometown and beloved state are beyond compare. Thank you, Lisa, for helping and for gathering from everyone else in SportClips.
My family and community is beyond blessed thanks to the outpouring of love from El Paso. I’ve collected enough donations to fill another truck. I’ll be driving it down over this long weekend.
P.S. Don’t judge me for closing my eyes. I took my sunglasses off for the picture, but the sun still gets to me eyes. Lol
After being assaulted and loved on by my Godson and niece, a full night’ sleep, and a fresh cup of coffee this morning, I finally got out to deliver the donations from El Paso.
First stop was at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in St. Amant. We unloaded 6 or 7 carts of food, water, toys, blankets, and baby things once we arrived. I am 100% certain that we could have gotten more to them if they were not packed farther in the truck. Unforunately, they were not established for a large scale relief effort, as only 2 people were working in the relief building at a time, and were running out of space. They weren’t set to take clothes, but gave us some leads on organizations and places that may be willing to take them.
Considering that the bulk of the items in the truck were clothes, Mom started making some phone calls. Again, the road block came when none of the churches we contacted were taking clothes unless they were new. We made the decision at that point to go down to the local St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store to see if they were taking and giving donations. They informed us that, though they were a Thrift Store, if someone came in looking for flood relief, they were given 2 pairs of clothes, a pair of shoes, and a set of linen. You cannot always be picky, but their desire to help those in need told me that they were the ones for us. Here we run into Road Block #2…… they were so overwhelmed with donations that they had no room. The young lady almost cried when I opened the back of the truck. She said she really wished that she could take it all, and told me that if we could not find somewhere else to donate it that they would make the room anyway. She made a few phone calls and finally got us onto a location. So, mom and I loaded up in the truck and headed over to Baton Rouge.
I made it to St. Amant today. The driving was long and hard, but well worth it. I often forget my true love for this region until I’m bouncing along 18 miles of bridge across the Atchafalaya Swamp.
Today, like every other time, I felt the butterflies and jubilation associated with doing home. It was short lived, however. It didn’t take long for the gloom and despair, accompanied with heavy rainfall (for dramatic effect, I assume), to bring me to the reality of my community in peril.
From the eerie water lines stained on the trees along, through Denham Springs, and ending in St. Amant, the destruction and its toll engulfed the final 30 minutes of my trip. House after house, their contents piled in yards, await the removal crews to take away the pain and debris…. Leaving behind a void, a vast emptiness where generations and memprries once last.
It’s so much to process that I still find myself lost. I’ll post the video, and I hope to find a way to express this. It’s simple right now…… I’m just sad.
Click here to donate to Catholic Charities flood relief efforts for the Baton Rouge Diocese.
Well, today’s been a very eventful day. After graduating Battle Staff, lunch with my wife, and a quick news interview (More on that in a second), I finally managed to leave El Paso with the truck full of donations. I’ve made it to Junction, TX, as of writing this. My truck governs out at 75 mph, which is 5 under the speed limit on I-10 throughout this empty Texas drive, but I’ll look at it as God’s way of keeping me safe.
I’d love to write more, but I’ve already lost some time with the speed limit. I’ll keep you updated tomorrow.