After the Louisiana Flood: A Plea

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My cousins need your help. They’re trying to raise a little cash to help their dad, my Uncle Carl.

It feels a little weird to write something (else) about the flooding in Louisiana a few weeks ago. After all, a hurricane just hit Florida and I’m constantly checking weather sites to see if it’ll make it to New York (not out of fear, but to see if it’s going to screw up my barbecue plans).

But the sad fact of the matter is that just because something bad is happening in one place, it doesn’t mean bad things just stop happening elsewhere. The national news media barely covered the Louisiana Floods to begin with. Because of that (and other shameless behavior when it comes to the state), they weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. And when the flood waters showed the first signs of receding, they were off after the next shiny thing, whether that was Ryan Lochte, Donald Trump or the Italian earthquake, all of which got much more coverage.

Here’s the thing about floodwaters receding, though. It’s only then you see the real devastation. There might not be much of the dramatic structural damage associated with hurricanes or tornadoes, but the interiors of houses are ruined. And days later, every street in some towns becomes a valley of discarded furniture, sheetrock, moldy insulation. It looks like the houses had a hell of a frat party and then threw up all at the same time.

My Uncle Carl’s house was flooded. In one of those surreal moments created by modern life, I’d seen the first hint of this flit by on Facebook when my cousin Lainey asked if anyone had heard from her dad. Within half an hour, three people in pickups had shown up at his house. (The below photo is obviously taken before the flood.)

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He was fine. But the house took on water. Flooding is relative. It didn’t get anywhere near the roof of the house, so yes, others had it worse. But once the water’s in. Floors had to be ripped out. Furniture had to be thrown out. And when they started cutting into the walls, they discovered water had gotten in there, too. So, it all had to be thrown out. And, obviously, it all has to be replaced. Which isn’t easy.

My cousin Corey started a GoFundMe page and I’ll let him explain a little bit about who Uncle Carl is:

a veteran of the National Guard, living with ALS, a widower, and a survivor of the Flood of 2016.   He’s worked his whole life to make a home for us growing up, and now in his retired years he’s having to rebuild once again.  In 1987 our home was wiped away by a tornado and today he lives those memories all over again.  We have had some help from FEMA but it barely covers materials for the basics of reconstruction.

That might make Uncle Carl sound like Job, but most mornings he’s up and posting on Facebook that it’s time for coffee and asking if everyone’s okay.

A word about that “widower” bit. If you’ve read my third novel, Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears, you’ll know that the events in the book are kicked off by the death of the main character’s sister. If you’ve read anything I wrote about the writing of the book or come to my reading, you’ll know that it was the death of my Aunt Debbie that sort of shook me and kicked off that part of the book. That’s her holding me in the picture below. She was 15. I was 1.

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We were young once … and tee-tiny.

She was Uncle Carl’s wife.

This is them at a wedding:163127_1493947199685_4124359_n

Now, some folks might ask, “Ken, why don’t you, I don’t know, donate some of the millions you make off of that book?”

Well, first of all, there are no millions. What I’ve made off of the book, I could maybe pay one month’s rent here in Brooklyn. Secondly, even if there were a mad rush on it, I wouldn’t see that money until next year at some point, because book publishing is an antiquated industry run by not particularly bright wizards.

Thirdly, every time you see one of those “Proceeds from this book” things, know that it’s first and foremost a marketing ploy, a PR effort to drive up sales for the book. That’s not what this is about.

I just want anyone reading this to a) donate and b) share it. Just to be clear, I donated. I’m also not a fan of “Well, I wrote about it, so I did my part! Raising awareness! Starting the conversation!” Conversation ain’t gonna get the mold out of the walls.

They’re not asking a lot. Five bucks, 10 bucks. Hell, two bucks! Donate here.

P.S. I didn’t write anything about my cousin Jason in this post. Hi Jason!

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