Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Only Connect"

Oakland County, MI is one of three area counties included in a State of Emergency declared by Governor Rick Snyder. Record rainfalls were recorded Sunday night, topping a hundred year record.

Sunday evening while it was raining hard my son had noticed an unusual amount of traffic going down the street. We looked out and saw there was flooding at the end of our block. The water covered the tires of trucks pushing through. Streets all over the area were blocked by flood water and drivers were looking for alternate routes. Some left cars and walked home in the driving rain.

Detroit expressways were filled with water. A thousand cars were abandoned. A 100 year old woman drowned. The news coming in on Monday was devastating.

Yesterday I went to a quilt shop some miles away. Everywhere along the streets are piles of what were once finished basement family room comforts: home theater chairs, couches, mattresses, bookcases and media storage, children's toys, suitcases, boxes of Christmas ornaments, mementos.

Just a block away houses were flooded.

The block behind us was hard hit. 
People have told me about the water reaching their front door, new trucks totaled, newly finished basement family rooms destroyed. Washing machines, dryers, furnaces, hot water heaters no longer functioning and not repairable. None of which is covered by typical homeowner's insurance.

In June we had a serious foundation crack filled. It required cutting out and repairing drywall. It cost about $800. We had no water in the basement on Sunday. It was a lucky break we had the work done when we did. We are on a long hill side. Work had been done on the city sewer and the line from the house. We were so lucky.

I had just switched insurance carriers days before the rain. I knew we had $5,000 coverage for sewage backup. That would not cover much I now realize.


I cry when I see the piles along the road. I imagine the pain people are feeling. Had it been us, I would have lost my quilts, my new and vintage fabric stash, my Bernina, my handkerchief collection, my books, my family photos and slides, my quilt patterns, my writing files, my genealogy papers. My quilt "I Will Lift My Voice", which was in the 2013 American Quilt Society shows in Lancaster and Grand Rapids, was appraised for several thousand dollars. And it is only one of many still in pillowcases in boxes downstairs.

"Only connect" E. M. Forster wrote in one of my favorite novels, Howard's End. I can connect to the loss of these families because I can imagine what my loss would have been.

Last fall articles appeared about a study showing that literary fiction by writers such as as Don DeLillo, fosters in readers a psychological awareness and social empathy that carries over into real life. Genre and popular fiction leads what you are to feel while reading. Literary fiction allows the reader to fill in the blanks, co-create the character.

I have just finished reading two books about families dealing with crisis, grief and loss. In recent months I read The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and Don DeLillo's White Noise. Could my constant tears be rooted in having read such books?

I am no psychologist. I have no idea if there is a connection. Perhaps I just have an overactive imagination... which would be feed by having read so many books...