By Trish Wood
Watching the flood devastation on TV doesn’t prepare you for the reality of walking along pavements piled high with the entire contents of someone’s home…. especially when almost every pile is topped with the heartbreaking sight of a sodden, battered and filthy Christmas tree still clinging forlornly to its once glittering decorations.
Watching on TV doesn’t prepare you for the exhausted confusion on the face of the lady clutching a photo of her little cat as she watches helpers bring out all her sewage-soaked belongings… I couldn’t bring myself to ask about the cat.
Watching on TV doesn’t prepare you for the stench of raw effluentas you and other helpers try desperately to shovel, brush and wipe the disgusting slime and muddy silt from a pensioner’s back yard so that she can walk without slipping.
Watching on TV doesn’t prepare you for the tearful gratitude that a flask of hot water or a cup of steaming hot soup brings.
Watching on TV doesn’t prepare you for the constant stream of kind & generous people bringing food, candles, toiletries and cleaning products until there is no room for anything else.
Watching on TV doesn’t show us ‘The Red Bucket Brigade’ with their mops & cleaning equipment or “The Hi-Vis Jacket Team” shifting out fridges, washers and all the other items that householders just cannot lift alone.
Watching on TV doesn’t show the children handing out their freshly made sandwiches and home baked buns or the ladies with the supermarket trolley ferrying a tea urn and biscuits to the workers.
Watching on TV doesn’t show the lady struggling down muddy paths with a wheeled suitcase filled with drinking water and food for all the houses still without power and water.
Watching on TV doesn’t show you the dark northern humouras you try to hand a bottle of drinking water to a man clearing sludge from his porch. Grim faced he responds with “Water? Does tha not think ah’ve got enough?” He pauses long enough to leave you worried you’ve caused offence before smiling, winking and taking the bottle with a heartfelt “Thanks love. Are you sure no one else needs this?.
Watching on TV doesn’t show you the hive of busy bees at community centres, scout huts and churches churning out never-ending cups of tea, soup, bacon sandwiches and cakes, or the teams of volunteers from the mosque and the sikh temple, bringing box upon box of emergency supplies…. and 3000 crumpets….
Watching on TV doesn’t show you the sight of a group of weary, mud stained Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and (most likely) atheists sharing laughter, hot drinks and a packet of biscuits in a community centre car park at the end of the day.
Watching on TV most certainly doesn’t prepare you for the sting in your eye as you notice the guy in that group wearing the black turban and you read the slogan on his hoodie…….. “ We are all one race. The Human Race”.
If ever proof were needed that there are far more good people in the world than bad, well, I think today was it.
Big thanks to Trish for sharing these moving words.