This is my town, a small Southeast Texas town of some four thousand
families sitting on a high spot in the marsh on the top end of Sabine Lake,
home to the best Red Drum and Speckled Trout fishing in the world. Life in
my town revolves around work in and support for the surrounding refineries,
hunting, fishing and school sports; Friday night football, power
volleyball, summer evenings at the ballpark. Not nearly as fast or
glamorous as life in the big city, my town is comfortable, quiet, easy.

This is my town, Saturday morning, September 13th; five feet of
saltwater at the traffic signal in the middle of town; homes on the south
side of town literally blown apart by the storm surge; homes on the north
side filled with several feet of water and a foot of black marsh mud; fewer
than a couple of dozen homes are untouched by the invading sea. This is my
town, my entire town . under water.

This is my town; volunteers in inflatable boats, rice tractors, and
monster trucks plucking the foolhardy from their roofs; citizens braving
the dark waters, moving from house to house checking for those who stayed
behind; volunteer firemen stepping over snakes and alligators to pull
electrical meters from water soaked homes.

This is my town; dozens of neighbors, too busy last week to speak,
coming together this week to help one another clean up the mess; the old
couple whose only son died a few years ago, smiling under tear-filled eyes
at the group now raking mud from their home; the woman who thought she’d
lost it all until she realized her husband and sons were there to haul it
to the street.

This is my town; the mechanic taking time from cleaning his shop to
get a flooded tractor running to help the cleanup on the next street over;
the retired refinery operator wrestling someone else’s fully loaded
refrigerator to the street then going back for the freezer; the couple
with an undamaged home, using their vacation to help strangers clean out

This is my town; a handful of volunteers running an undamaged church
kitchen, feeding over a hundred folks three hot meals a day; last weeks’
grumpy old man, carefully washing a handful of plastic toys, the last few
treasures of a child who’d lost everything else; the bone tired pastor
carrying yet another load of sodden sheetrock from yet another house,
smiling that this is where he is supposed to be.

This is my town; the tough-guy high school jock dragging a previously
unknown neighbors’ water heavy carpet to the pile at the street, pausing
only to let the old man cry on his shoulder; the dainty, delicate
cheerleader on her knees, up to her elbows in mud, trying to rescue a few
precious memories for the widow with little else; the woman, between bouts
of chemo-therapy, sorting the waist high mounds of donated clothes into
neatly folded stacks by size.

This is my town; every street and road lined with debris too high to
see over, the evidence of lives lived, evidence so easily destroyed and
discarded. This is my town; a church full of people on Sunday morning,
most with little more than the clothes they wear, singing praise to the
Creator God, in my town.

When someone finds out the name of my town, the question I get right
after “How much water did you get?” is “Are you going to rebuild?” . Of
course I’m going to rebuild, this is my town, my home, and neither has
anything to do with sheetrock and two-by-fours. How am I doing? Blessed
beyond reason, this is my town.

R. Culp
Bridge City, Texas
October 2, 2008