February 28, Paulina Jackson and her family watched from a canoe as rising flood waters overtook their home. When the water receded days later, Jackson walked back up the driveway to her home and was overwhelmed at the devastation she saw. It was filled with mud, the walls were waterlogged, and a sour smell assaulted her senses. Her warm and welcoming home of 15 years was unrecognizable as it stood wet, cold, and desolate.
“It has been devastating. A lot of tears, a lot of hard days, a lot of days you don’t understand why,” Jackson said. “I think the most devastating thing was I felt like I was failing as a parent because I didn’t have a roof to put over my children,” she added, wiping tears from her eyes.
Jackson leaned against a post inside the home and prayed. She told God if she didn’t have help to fix her home, she and her four children would have to leave. Her prayer was answered.
Over the past four months, the community and organizations like Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) have come together to help Jackson and several other families in Eastern Kentucky clean-up and rebuild after historic flooding earlier this year. Since the flood, Jackson has faced additional hardships, losing her father and uncle, her son staying in the ICU on Mother’s Day weekend, her son nearly losing his home after it caught fire, car problems, and the intensified challenge of taking care of her children while the family was displaced and living in a hotel.
“I am grateful for CAP. They have been so good to me,” Jackson said. “If the people at CAP hadn’t come, I think I would have fallen apart. They were my strength. They were supportive of me when I was at the bottom. They were there to hug me when I just wanted to cry. I think they were a Godsend. They stayed right there to help me, they volunteered when they didn’t have to, and they gave of themselves.”
CAP’s Housing Program has helped Jackson work on her home and provided new plumbing materials to be installed. Last week, CAP’s Disaster Relief Program hosted a distribution for those who experienced property damage or loss caused by the flooding. The distribution offered cleaning supplies, bedding, clothing, household items, and furniture for people to take home. A FEMA representative was also present to assist families. Jackson attended the distribution and was able to take home a new chair and other furniture and household items to continue rebuilding her home.
“Every time you see a hand reach out, you get strength to go a little further,” Jackson said. “When you’re destitute and you feel like there’s no help, you don’t know what you’re going to do.” Over the past four months, Jackson said she has felt like she has been pushed so far down that she hasn’t been able to get back up. After the distribution, she feels like she is finally gaining control back on her life.
“I feel a sense of relief, a sense of OK. It’s going to be all right,” Jackson said. “Even though I know there’s still a lot of hard days ahead, I feel a load has been lifted.”
To help CAP meet these continued needs of families and individuals impacted by flooding, visit www.christianapp.org/flood2021.