Archive | September, 2011

Turning a dirty wreck into renewed hope

18 Sep

Because of your generous contributions, we have slowly begun rebuilding our lives. After some negotiation, our renter’s insurance coverage was officially denied because of a clause stating that we are not covered for flood-related damages. The local FEMA staff were friendly and easy to work with and did give us a small grant that would have covered a month and a half of rent at our old house. The loss of the contents of our home will not be covered. Therefore, your help is what will ultimately see us through to the other side of all of this. We have already been able to replace shoes, food and toiletries that were lost in the flood waters. In time, when we move into a new home, we will have some freedom to replace furniture, electronics, bedding and other larger items. It is a slow process of recovery from such a blow. But, all in all, we realize how truly privileged, blessed and lucky we are. THANK YOU!

For now, we wake every morning to the scampering of two of the cutest cats in the world. We have settled in quite comfortably at Michael’s mom’s house for the time being. Yesterday, a cadre of friends descended upon us to wash the muddy silt off the furniture that was salvaged. Our gracious friend Stu Dorris, a talented wood-worker, whisked off with the hardest hit of our dressers, one Jacinta had had since childhood, one that was now moldy, black and swollen, and promised to take it apart, plane it and turn it into something new and utterly beautiful. And this is the metaphor for how these last three weeks has been. You are all helping us turn a dirty wreck into renewed hope.


a little more from the past week…

7 Sep

As you may have already heard, we were impacted by Hurricane Irene. The Rondout Creek, our favorite summer swimming spot, flooded the house that we have been renting. The first floor of our house (bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom & dining area) became submerged under three & a half feet of rushing, muddy flood waters.  But we are both SAFE. We lost our bed, antique furniture, some of our clothes, most of our electronics, shoes, important paperwork, many family photos, food pantry, keepsakes & more. In the end, we guess that we will feel liberated from all this STUFF but for now we are still processing the loss.

We have been humbled and touched by the generosity of our friends & family.  We had loved ones working ’round the clock to clear out our house, sorting that which could be salvaged from that which was standing on its last 4 legs. There were people sweeping the pounds of mud off the floor so the helpers were not wading through this on their way in and out of the house. At the house, with no running water, our friends set up a 4-part washing station to clean small trinkets, jewelry, dishes, etc. Another friend loaded her truck with every pot, pan, kitchen appliance, utensil and serving spoon we own and took them to her outdoor kitchen to clean & ready them for storage. She did all this without electricity. There were others who diligently walked through the rubble, documenting each and every ruined item in a notebook (adorned with kittens), our team of impromptu assessors, tallying the losses for FEMA and (possibly) insurance claims. Michael’s mom sat with Jacinta and typed up the list in a useful spreadsheet as they both cried. There has been a lot of crying. Our renter’s insurance does not cover flood but we are keeping our fingers crossed that they will make exception because of the state-wide nature of the disaster. Jacinta’s parents and their neighbors in Pennsylvania are diligently trying to restore Jacinta’s antique furniture that she has had since childhood.

Michael was out of state during the first several days, trying, but unable, to get a flight home. Jacinta was able to pull through all this without him here because of this amazing community.  A team of friendly DIY document savers laid out the 1,000s of letters, documents, elementary school report cards, yearbooks, taxes, passports, Michael’s original song lyrics, etc. to dry in the sun on the driveway. The photos of this and the rest of the wreckage, taken by Michael Asbill, are stunning and colorful, and will make an amazing healing art project one day.  Jacinta’s co-workers did all of the work setting up the classroom for her so she can be ready for the first day of school without even having to go in beforehand. There were friends who let Jacinta crawl in bed with them or wake them up with phone calls at 2 am when she was sobbing and panicked about losing her nest. There were other friends who stopped by where Jacinta was staying and heated up food for her at just the right time, when she was dizzy from not eating or sleeping. Some took us out for 10 minute walks just to get away from it all.  Friends called from other states and offered truckloads of furniture. If we typed up the generous offers on paper, they would certainly fill our now-empty house.  And perhaps this is the beauty in all of this. What we are left with is ALL OF YOU, our community and family. Turns out, love is the most tangible thing we have.

A lot of people have been asking us if they could help us out with financial donations. After some cajoling, we’ve set up this blog. You can read the whole story here and/or donate so that we can eventually replace lost food, clothes, spices, shoes, furniture, electronics, etc.  We realize there are others in way worse shape than we are, people who lost everything and have no one to call for help. Parts of the Hudson Valley were hit worse than any other place along the coast. But this is for those of you who asked how you can help us directly. Many of you have already sent in donations. We are so blessed beyond belief. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We will be staying at Michael’s mom’s house in Stone Ridge for a while to get back on our feet. We live with two kitties here, something both of us have sorely missed. Sometime in the next few days, we hope to go out and replace the shoes we lost in the hurricane. One step at a time. It has been hard to find time to eat, let alone go to the store. We have taken out a bit of time to share meals with friends & family almost every day and the laughter around the table is what keeps us sane. We have been diligently saving for the last year to buy a home through RUPCO’s First-time Home Buyers Program. And we will get back on that saddle when the dust settles. For now, we have a beautiful room at Marta’s.

Many people have offered replacements for our lost household goods. Lists of any items can be sent to Amy Myslik at  She is compiling a list and we will start to respond in the next few weeks/months. Right now we don’t have a place to put anything extra but we love that you are thinking of us. We read each and every one of your emails. We listen to all of your messages. They all help us through this difficult time. Thank you for reaching out to us. We are a little overwhelmed. Just know we take each of you into our hearts. You mean the world to us.

We did lose Jacinta’s oldest Winnie-the-Pooh and original copies of her very first coloring book made on a photocopier, and Michael’s book of song lyrics and notes. These are the losses that make us pause. For those of you who know our work with Hudson Valley BRAWL, the good news is: all of Jacinta’s pink wigs and fanciful costumes survived, as well as Michael’s referee shirt! The October BRAWL will go on in style! We haven’t had time to sit down and write this all down until now but we know that many of you are worried so we wanted to give you an update on our current situation… but now we must go back to sorting and cleaning.

Eerily,  Jacinta found one solo scribbling in the notebook she carries around in her bag that was from April. It reads “I have recurring dreams of having to make my way through channels, over bridges, and through canyons that always flood and it is impossible to leave. Last night in my dream, I finally turned behind me and found that there had been a backdoor out the whole time, unlocked.”  In this challenging experience, we have found the back door out. And it is all of you.

Much Love & Gratitude,

Jacinta Bunnell and Michael Wilcock