Trinity Rose is a 36 year old woman who has lived in Louisiana her whole life.
Since her parents died, Trinity has pretty much kept to herself, running an eBay store and dog kennel from her mobile home. But when the floods hit Denham Springs last August, everything changed. She was sitting in her house with her boyfriend Randy when the river near her home crested, letting raging rapids loose on her home. As Trinity looked around, she remembers praying that the water would stop rising but watched helplessly as it rose higher and higher.
Trinity also remembers realizing that the water was not going to stop and recalls how suddenly her prayers changed. She was overcome by a moment of incredible peace amidst the chaos, an almost palpable assurance that this was supposed to happen and that all was going to be OK.
The following moments were a blur of commotion as Randy diverted Trinity’s attention back to the immediate danger and they set about trying to flag a rescue boat. Trinity recalls trying to reach her backyard to save her dogs but that by stopping her, Randy’s quick thinking actually saved her life.
Climbing onto the roof, they were finally able to get hold of a rescue boat. As they climbed on and the boat pulled away, Trinity held on to her door knob with all her might, desperate to prevent her beloved possessions from floating away. Amidst the chaos of that one moment, that was all that really mattered – that her lifelong memories should still be in the house on her return, whatever their condition. As the boat pulled away, she held on to that door as if her life depended on it, and with Randy holding on to her, finally the door closed.
With nowhere else to go and no family to fall back on, Trinity spent the next five months living in a tent in front of her ruined home. She had no insurance and was denied assistance by FEMA. Her car was ruined in the floods so she had no form of transportation. Worse still, people from other less impacted neighborhoods kept driving by her property and slowing down as they saw people were living in a tent. Trinity felt like she was on display and found herself feeling bitter, scared and worst of all, completely forgotten by the world.
Then one day, she heard about All Hands Volunteers. Trinity admits to being a little skeptical at first – who turns up for free, with no strings attached, to throw themselves into the task of gutting a stranger’s flood infested house? It sounded far too good to be true.
But when the team arrived, something changed for Trinity. She describes it like this:
“I was experiencing a depression that I don’t even have the words to describe. I would just sit there in my front yard looking at my house and there was no hope. I’d already exhausted avenues that I thought would offer assistance. I don’t have family. I don’t have anything. But when a group shows up and shows they care about you. That was the amazing thing that changed everything.”
“All Hands people are like shining diamonds. And they come together for the common purpose…it’s the sheer magic of it that is amazing to me. You can’t buy that in life. And without having this horrible tragedy, I never would have been able to experience that.”
Trinity so beautifully articulates a common theme that we hear again and again across disasters of every kind in every corner of the world. It’s a perspective that seems only accessible to those who find themselves in the midst of extreme suffering. Time and time again, we see people who have lost everything speaking simultaneously of the heartache and pain of loss and a keen awareness of the “tender mercies” they experienced at the hands of generous neighbors, family, friends and the world at large.
As Trinity describes it, “to have your entire existence shaken up changes your perspective in a way that would not be possible outside of a tragedy. Tragedies have gifts that they give people if you’re only open enough to receive them. The flood took everything I had. But I’m a better person now than I ever was before the flood.”
To us who show up with shovels and gloves, the powerful energy of people like Trinity who somehow manage to see joy and blessings even as they stand in the ashes of their lives sparks something new in us too. I think it’s called Hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that our own hardships are not as bad as they seem. And Hope that maybe, just maybe, there’s a whole lot more Good in the world than we thought.