I learned a valuable lesson last weekend. Actually a few valuable lessons. Last Saturday, during a particularly bad Jozi storm, our house was flooded. I’m not just talking about a bit of water under the front door. I’m talking about knee deep in water, INSIDE our house, my child screaming in fear as the water level rose, phoning the fire department, trying to get the doors open and failing as the water level kept rising and eventually having to climb out over the top half of the back door. That’s the kind of flood I’m talking about.
It all happened so fast that I don’t think any of us had a moment to process it all, not until after the rain stopped and the mammoth task of getting the water out of our house begun. Walter was outside trying to sledgehammer additional holes in our boundary wall to release the water build up, caused by a blocked storm drain a few houses up, when I waded back into our house, among floating juice bottles, dog beds,toys and our ruined possessions we’d worked so hard for and the magnitude of what had just happened hit me! As I surveyed the mess, the disaster that was the ground floor of our home, I burst into tears. Not just for what was lost or destroyed but from shock and knowing what a huge task it was going to be to get all the water out.
Still crying, I started opening the doors to release the built up indoor water as the outside water level began dropping and went in search of our brooms and mops which were, by this stage, floating in our garden, when I heard my neighbors calling to me to come and it was then that I had my lesson in humility, when Walter words from just a few short weeks ago, rang in my ears.
We live on a panhandle but it’s a bit of a different set up, you drive down a long driveway which then splits in two, one going off to the left which leads to one house and on the right, going through a sliding gate, you drive into another communal driveway at the bottom of the panhandle that is shared by ourselves and two other houses. In essence, it’s like a tiny community, these 3 houses in their own private gated community. I’d arrived home on Friday a couple of weeks ago and a car had parked almost right in front of the gate that leads to our little gated community, making it impossible for me to get in. I wasn’t in a good frame of mind and was extremely irritated, so without even thinking, I didn’t try to ring the buzzers for the other two houses, I simply started honking my horn like an impatient pig when the husband from the first house came running out, apologizing to me as he hadn’t realized he’d parked so close to the gate that no one could pass. I barely acknowledged his explanation/apology in my irritation and had driven through after he’d moved his car. When I relayed the story to Walter, he kakked all over me and insisted that I approach our neighbors and apologize for being rude and impatient because, in his words: we live in this tiny gated community and needed to exercise patience and respect among us as we all had to live together and “we never knew when we may need our neighbors assistance”! I did apologize little realizing that in a couple of week’s I’d learn just how valuable our neighbors neighborliness would help and comfort me.
Now back to the flood….
So there I stood on Saturday, knee deep in water when our neighbors arrived, adult kids in tow, armed with buckets, mops, brooms and towels and no one left us until the mess was cleared. They stayed with Walter and I, husbands assisting Walter outside and wives and kids helping me inside. Mopping, sweeping, ringing out towels, photographing for insurance, they worked tirelessly to assist us. Getting the water out of our house took in excess of 4 hours and they never left us! They worked, they mopped, they made coffee, bought cool drinks, biscuits and dished out hugs when I was struck dumb, standing in the chaos of what was my home and I am forever grateful to them for that lesson in humility & being neighborly.
I’m so grateful for my neighbors that assisted us and for my friend, Kate, who arrived within minutes and took Ava and Hannah to stay at her house until we could get everything cleared up!