Many have not had a shower since before the hurricane and are out of clean laundry.Their cars are destroyed or were swept away in the flood, so they have no transportation to purchase necessities or find an open laundramat. I listened to story after story of people who simply had nothing left, and watched them scrounge through pile after pile of the discarded items of others, looking for something to call their own again. What was happening there was primitive. People trying to meet their basic human needs, after life as they knew it was over.
After we left the donation center, we took a quick drive through the flooded areas of town. Most driveways were empty because the majority of cars in the community were swept away with the overflowing ocean waters. Stores were completely destroyed, in the process of being gutted by their owners. Some roads were barely passable between the fallen trees and giant piles of trash lining the streets. Some streets have never had trash picked up since the storm. Backhoes and dump trucks were scooping piles of trash from people’s front lawns. Entire contents of people’s homes sat on their front lawn — destroyed. Floors, rugs, couches, beds, giant screen TVs, stereos, book shelves. Almost every house had a resident outside — most just standing surveying the contents of their life-destroyed and waiting to be collected with the trash.
We drove with the windows down, and besides the smell, which was one of the most foul things I have ever smelled, I could hear neighbors, sharing stories of what they were told by their homeowner’s insurance, to what they heard about when power might be restored (would you believe some people are being told Christmas!). I don’t feel like my words can remotely convey to you the devastation and desperation in this community.