If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Millwood Manor, Work in Progress

Dear Kay,
Spent the afternoon today at Millwood Manor, an apartment complex off Murfreesboro Road that only sounds like an estate in a Bronte novel.
Mill Creek winds around Millwood Manor, and apparently wound THROUGH the place last weekend.
It’s home to immigrants from Egypt, mostly, so Arabic translators were the most popular people in town as we tried to assess the needs of each family.
Fifty-eight apartments were flooded. There are about 42 brazillion kids running around the place, each one adorable except for one kid who was driving his dad berserkers. We traded a knowing look at one point, the international nod of total and complete irritation.
The language barrier made it tricky for us to understand the subtleties of what the families’ needs were, but the piles of dead carpet, dead mattresses, and dead furniture pretty much laid it all out for us. Needs? Beds, fans, food, clothes. Diapers. SO many diapers!
We got wind of a place not far away where the free diapers were flowing. The cases we brought back were gone in about eight minutes.
We handed out flyers that allegedly explained FEMA aid and cleaning hints. At least, I hope that’s what they said.
As I took a picture, one guy came up to me, waving his hands. “No YouTube!” he said with a huge grin. “No YouTube!”
I pointed to myself and said, “YouTube STAR! YouTube SUPERSTAR!”
He laughed. If only he knew how weird America–OK some Americans–can be. Maybe he does know . . .
My friend Heather had been to Millwood Manor the day before and concluded that sleeping on wet carpet was not so great. So this morning she raised money to buy sleeping bags and air mattresses for the families, who are going to have to move out so that the place can be renovated. I’m not at all persuaded that any renovation is going to be taking place at Millwood Manor anytime soon. As of today, not a single bit of drywall had been ripped out, a week after the flood. My brief experience with all this tells me that water inside walls is a recipe for trouble, in terms of both structural integrity and mold.
And the families are loathe to move out. So this afternoon we went shopping for 100 sleeping bags, pillows, and air mattresses.
This is 45. Coulda wedged another 30 in there but we cleaned out that particular Walmart.
I’m writing all this down so that I don’t forget it, and also to encourage you to donate to flood relief. Millwood Manor is the sort of place where this sort of aid will make a direct difference in people’s lives. One family we spoke with has been in Nashville for one month, out of Egypt. As we sat making notes, the lady of the house brought us coffee cups filled with Coca-Cola. We drank them, gratefully.
PS I hasten to add that it was Angela and Heather who were leading the charge today–knitters, both of them. Represent! And Chelle, Susie, Mary, and Paul were amazing. And the midwives from Vanderbilt, scouting for pregnant women. And the interpreters. It was a scene.

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  1. THANK YOU! From one Nashville knitter to another. 😉 Y’all rock. So great to see everybody step up to the plate on this.

  2. Awesome.

  3. Ditto: Awesome!

  4. You are much more than a Youtube Superstar. You’re inspiring.

  5. You are much more than a Youtube Superstar. You’re inspiring.

  6. Ok, you got me. Donated. Must have been the image of all those little Egyptian kids running around in soppy apartments.
    BLESS YOU! You’re wonderful, and I wish I could help.
    I love the “international nod of total and complete irritation” – you know it. Keep up the cross-cultural bonding, girl (and pray they never actually find you on YouTube!)

  7. You are a SUPERSTAR in more ways than one. Thank you for chronicling all this for us.

  8. Thanks for telling this tale. You are more than a youtube star.

  9. Awesome work! And awesome job of bringing awareness to those further afield. Blessings on all the volunteers, and those affected.

  10. What a perfect way to spend the weekend!

  11. You and your community are amazing, Ann. Thanks for the stories. Rising up! Love it. A great way to start my week. Mwah!!!

  12. Ann, you (and all your friends and colleagues) are doing great stuff — wish the need wasn’t there, but glad you are.

  13. Keep up the great work! The stories are powerful reminders for us about how important the basic human needs are and how lucky we are to have so much when others have so little.

  14. Oh, I’m glad that you drank the cups of Coca-Cola. It’s so important to let the person you’re helping give you something back. That makes it a cooperative venture rather than charity, much more empowering on both sides. The sleeping bag idea is brilliant! You go!

  15. I understand why they don’t want to move–they don’t want to leave their families and friends. After Katrina, we renovated a rental duplex we own in a New Orleans suburb. Did it all ourselves, since waiting for available contractors wasn’t an option. Our tenants, formerly from Algeria, were desperate to return to their home, which was close to their friends’ apartments. One of the two familes is still there, 4 years later. Their brother’s family has moved into the other half of the duplex.
    Point being, landlords do renovate. I hope Millwood gets redone soon.

  16. Your flood photos brought back frightening memories from my teenhood. My family lived in Wyoming Valley during the Hurricane Agnes flooding of the Susquehanna. I’m not sure the city has completely recovered to this day, and it’s been 40 years. Even though our home was not affected, we were thankfully above the flood plain, everything we did, and everywhere we went was affected for years.

  17. You make me proud on so many levels. I can’t begin to imagine just how displaced and uprooted those people must have been feeling before this even happened. To have good folks show up and give help, and to know that people are able to laugh about being YouTube superstars, it just makes the whole thing very human. And inspiring. I realize you wouldn’t imagine NOT doing anything, but I still say thank you.

  18. Went on over and donated. Thanks for spreading the word and doing the work. I know you’re not doing it just to save the warshrags. Right? right?

  19. That was my bestie-of-all-besties-I-never-actually-met-IRL Angela, right? Say hi for me. I have never gotten over that nest.
    Anyway, yes. Donated once, gonna donate again. It was a frickin’ miracle that I made it out last Sunday. Liz was stuck for another 36 hours because her flight was only 2 hours later.

  20. DON’T EVER FORGET! Thanks for posting this. So that we can see too.

  21. Glad to be able to donate. I live in Santa Cruz, CA and have been through the disaster of a major earthquake and know how important it is to have helping hands. Thanks for keeping us updated; your sense of humor keeps us all smiling!

  22. Nice work!

  23. Check this website for cleaning processes.

  24. Check this website for cleaning processes.

  25. Thanks for posting from the front lines. Your last two posts have prompted me to buy flood insurance for my home.

  26. I follow you for more than just the knitting…I LIKE you as a person….ok and you knit well too! Going over to donate now… your doing something like this does more good for world peace than we can even imagine.

  27. Wow. Everything that has happened in TN and MA (less so here, but still) is a reminder that flood insurance is a good thing to have. Much better than being flooded and realizing you’ve lost everything (or even just a lot).

  28. You rock! As do the other knitters and the midwives and everyone else who is pitching in to help.

  29. Thank you for offering such a great helping hand to folks who need it most. I know that everyone’s efforts will really pay off — there’s nothing to make people feel at home in a strange place like a helping hand when it’s needed most. Keep up the good work!

  30. Brazillions are so cute. Here’s hoping some of the relief funds get to Millwood Manor and fast. Thanks for the links to donate.

  31. I kind of fell off the universe for a while, various reasons that aren’t important, but just got caught up with your blog. My apologies for not expressing boundless concern sooner for all of the flood-affected, assurance that I am going to hit the donate button very next thing, and what is it with all the 100+ year floods this year? My daughter lives in Providence where the pictures looked much the same as yours earlier this spring.


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