For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Handknit Rescue Squad

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Dear Kay,
My friend Frannie and I spent the day helping at a house at Pennington Bend, a flooded-out neighborhood right by flooded-out Opryland. (There’s a photo of Pennington Bend in my previous entry). I learned a few things:
1. There are two kinds of house cleanouts: a) flood-insurance cleanouts and b) non-insured cleanouts. Insured houses mean that you have to be meticulous about keeping a list of ruined contents to give to the insurance company. The house we were helping at was one of the few in the neighborhood with insurance, so we kept a list of every single item in the house that had been ruined by the flood. The previous list-maker included stuff like “1 16 oz. package Kraft Cheese singles.” This seemed excessive to me at first, then I thought hey–if a flood had wiped out my cheese, I’d put in for some new cheese. Heckyeah I would. We had a moment about whether “box of saltines” was enough or whether it should be “1 pound box of saltines.” We went for specificity–no way were they going to end up with a half-pound box of replacement saltines.
Frannie took home a cast-iron skillet to re-season and return to its owner. I think it has a pretty good chance of making it.
The non-insured cleanout under way next door meant that a huge pile of dead house and contents grew in a completely unsorted way. It looked kind of cathartic over there; no constant stopping to write down “T-shirt, men’s, size Large.” Just ditch it. The drywall was flying.
2. The churches are HUGE in the cleanup effort here. A shout out to First Baptist Church for the cute retired couple who came by with a wheelbarrow full of granola bars and water. The United Methodists handed out five-gallon buckets loaded with everything from face masks to clothesline and clothespins. Grace Church of the Nazarene is having the neighborhood over Saturday night for spaghetti. The parade of kind people was inspiring.
3. Absolute gridlock is possible in a cul-de-sac neighborhood choked with people cleaning up after a flood. At one point we were stuck on a narrow street, front bumper to front bumper with a guy in a Dodge Ram truck, who was laughing, because he had four cars behind him and I had three. We would still be there except for the guy who climbed out of his car and directed us out of the mess like the world’s coolest city cop.
4. Flood insurance is not all that expensive. All I can say is that if you live anywhere near a body of water, PLEASE look into it. We heard chilling stories around us of those who will have to rebuild without any insurance money. (Kay, I’m pretty sure that living 12 floors in the air is probably safe.)
5. At one point, the homeowner we were working with got emotional about all the people stopping by asking to help. “It really is incredible,” she said, watching a guy head to the house next door. “Kindness of strangers.” That’s when I got all wobbly. I don’t know if she understood how powerful the need is for us to feel like we have something to do.
6. At this point, after loading up two kitchens, I think kitchens are my cleanout specialty. There were occasional stumpers–a Fry Daddy filled with oil is a challenge (list the oil on the insurance form or not?)–but it made my day to unearth this item:
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and put it in a nice, dry box.
Love,
Ann
PS These people are in many cases starting over again from zero. Please make a donation here to aid with flood relief.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. At distressing times such as these, it’s really something how rescuing a simple (and familiar) piece of knitting can be such an important and grounding act.
    Many blessings to you, Ann, and to all the others who are not only experiencing difficulties and hardships, but who are doing “good works”, and making life easier for others at the same time.
    LoveDiane

  2. Ann, I am a flood plain manager in a city in Iowa that went through our flood of record in 2008. Thanks for reminding everyone about flood insurance. The property owners I worked with who had flood insurance were able to move on the quickest. Those who refused to buy flood insurance because it was too expensive are still struggling. The most tragic thing I saw on TV was a woman who was counting on FEMA to rebuild their home. They didn’t have flood insurance and they don’t know yet that FEMA’s maximum payment is $28,800 and most disaster assistance is paid out as SBA loans. The most reliable forms of assistance will come from community organizations such as the churches moving through neighborhoods right how. It will be years before people recover emotionally. Christmas will the hardest. I hope everyone remembers the flood victims then.

  3. I’ve been thinking of you all, I am sure your being there, with that wonderful sense of humor you have is doing more than just cleaning kitchens….keep saving those dish cloths, because they were made with love just as your cleaning is! Will send a donation, after all we are all in this together…

  4. I’ve been thinking of you all, I am sure your being there, with that wonderful sense of humor you have is doing more than just cleaning kitchens….keep saving those dish cloths, because they were made with love just as your cleaning is! Will send a donation, after all we are all in this together…

  5. I spent hours yesterday and today reading blogs and reports about the clean-up effort. The volunteers from church groups really are remarkable, aren’t they?

  6. Hey, Ann – my hubby was over in that area today too, ripping out loads of drywall. His co-worker’s home was a total writeoff, basically. I helped out in a La Vergne neighborhood last Thursday, and you are right – it feels great to be able to pitch in and help somewhere. This week has been crazy. I would hope someone would do the same for me if the situation were reversed. Say hi to Frannie from me!

  7. It’s a humbling, and heart-warming experience all ’round. Prayers to all of the people who have been affected by this – and to all of those who are helping them through it.

  8. It’s a humbling, and heart-warming experience all ’round. Prayers to all of the people who have been affected by this – and to all of those who are helping them through it.

  9. I helped with flood clean-up in south central KS over 10 years ago while I was a college student. The houses we were cleaning out were definitely the “non-insurance” category. After tetanus shots, we went into basements where everything was coated in muck and sewage and got everything out to the curb just as fast as we could. It was the first time I’d seen such destruction so close to home. Yes, humbling.

  10. It’s so great that you’re out there helping these people in need. What a big job it must be to go through a home item by item. The photo of the dishcloth was uplifting!

  11. Ditto on the flood insurance. I have it even though I live on a freaking HILL. Water that comes in from rising (i.e., flooding) or sideways (e.g., hurricane) is covered by flood insurance. Your basic straight down rain might be covered by homeowners policy. Don’t assume — call your agent.

  12. Ann,
    As a New Orleanian, I’m all too familiar with what all of you in Nashville are going through. It will be unbearably sad for a while, but it will get better. Keep your sense of humor, don’t be afraid to cry, and keep putting one foot in front of another.
    Robin

  13. Hi Ann-
    First a big shout out to Tricia – I live next door to Cedar Rapids Iowa – home of one whale of a flood. I agree on the insurance. Just a reminder to take time to keep the stress in check during this – I tried yoga and also knit like no ones business during the whole thing. For your young ones – under 2nd grade – look into the book “The flood that came to Grandma’s House” – many of our school kids found it comforting. Might also think about some summer camps – Camp Noah – deals with helping kids and floods. Sending prayers to you and your family.

  14. Ann–Any way to direct me to where to actually help? I live in Bristol, TN; my 12-year-old daughter and I will be in Nashville on Wednesday for her appointment at Vanderbilt Children’s (she has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). We’re actually driving in on Tuesday night, and her appointment isn’t until 1:00; we’d love to spend the morning helping out somewhere.

  15. Ann–Any way to direct me to where to actually help? I live in Bristol, TN; my 12-year-old daughter and I will be in Nashville on Wednesday for her appointment at Vanderbilt Children’s (she has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). We’re actually driving in on Tuesday night, and her appointment isn’t until 1:00; we’d love to spend the morning helping out somewhere.

  16. Hi Kim–Hands On Nashville is doing an incredible job directing volunteers to jobs. Register at their website, hon.org, (takes a second), then check out available shifts. You should easily be able to find a shift for Wednesday morning. Over 15,000 people have registered to help. Very cool to see this happening.

  17. Thank-you for sharing your hope. We can’t get flood insurance because, if you need it, you should know better than to build in a flood plain. I want to be in charge of making such stupid decisions.

  18. I’m a nashville expat in philadelphia, and I was home visiting my parents the weekend of the flood. It’s truly awful, but it warms my heart to know that the people in my homestate are so warm and so good at taking care of other people. It’s really awesome. If anyone lives in philly and would like to help out, I’m having a fundraiser on the 20th that features whiskey, bbq, and a silent arts and crafts auction that will have at least 1-2 handknitted lace items (!!!) from an extremely generous friend. Email me for more information. Everything goes to the community foundation of middle tennessee.
    Also, I’ve decided that I’ll never own a home without flood insurance unless it is on the top of a mountain in a desert.

  19. that email for the above comment is delicious coffee beans [at] gmail [dot] com, with no spaces of any kind in the actual email.

  20. I just made a donation–thanks for posting the link. Keep up the good work!

  21. If there is anyone out there who has ever had any pictures of anyone in the flood zone, you can help even if you can’t do so physically, and have already donated what you could.
    Dig out every picture you’ve ever had that they might be related to in some way (in, near…) copy it, and give it to them. You can start by sending a scanned copy until they have a dried-out place to put them. My mother lived near the largest storm surge on the Katrina coast, and the biggest unreplace-able was all the family photos which are, of course, the starting point for all the memory/oral history conversations. It’s something none of the rescue organizations or insurance companies can do. Do it if you can.

  22. Thank you for helping. And thanks to those who accept the help, too; it does wonders for both sides.
    Yay for the surviving dishcloth!