Beauty After the Storm

Beauty After the Storm

“The rains came down and the floods came up”–it’s a line from a song I used to sing with my kids. A couple of weeks ago in our corner of Wisconsin, the rains came down, over-saturated the ground, broke a dam, and the floods came up. I snapped the sunset picture above on the eve of the worst flooding. Deceptively beautiful–the picture to the left is the same park from a different angle.

Add a power outage that disabled sump pumps, and the result was many flooded basements and piles of ruined possessions mounded on curbs and overflowing Dumpsters.

A few days after the river crested at 16 1/2 feet–twelve feet above normal–our church reached out to several homeowners whose basements had completely flooded. Bin after bin, box after box, volunteers pulled Christmas decorations, dishes, toys, clothes, filed papers, year books, and sports equipment out of basements while homeowners, whether pitching in or watching in quiet resignation, made decisions on what to keep and what to throw. Anything porous that couldn’t be disinfected had to go. Volunteers did their best to salvage photographs, but old greeting cards, journals, and letters with blurred ink were tossed into big black garbage bags.

During a break, I walked across the street–to what used to be another park. The water was still, glass-like, reflecting the primary colors of the playground equipment. Beauty in the midst of the storm.




While helping sort through soggy possessions, I came across this plaque. “You can’t have too many friends or pairs of shoes.” Under other circumstances I would have laughed and agreed. But I’d just seen a pair of beautiful shoes at the house next door–pretty spike heels filled with water. Ruined. What I’d also seen was a huge group of volunteers–men, women, teens–hauling boxes, ripping up carpeting, running generators, using shop vacs, brooms, and squeegees, and washing toys in buckets of bleach water.

Like the Good Samaritan, the volunteers were strangers to many of the residents in the flooded homes. But it wasn’t long before they became friends. And, as the plaque says, you can never have too many of those. That was the true beauty in this storm–story after story of neighbors helping people they might not have considered neighbors the day before. People with no connections to our community arrived to help. I met a woman in her seventies who’d flown up from Florida just to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse. Why? Because there was a need. Because that’s what Jesus would have us do. Because we, as his hands and feet, should always seek ways to bring beauty into the aftermath of a crisis. Or anytime.

“. . . in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Becky Melby About Becky Melby

Wisconsin resident Becky Melby is the author of the Lost Sanctuary Series and a dozen other contemporary fiction titles. Married for 43 years, mother of four, grandmother to fifteen, Becky thrives on writing, reading, camping, rides on the back of a silver Gold Wing, and time with family. Connect with her at her website or Facebook.


  1. I can only imagine this situation, but am thrilled to hear of the loving responses. I have two families of children in Wisconsin and it is comforting to know people like you were on board. Jesus told us to “love one another” didn’t He? Thanks for your post.

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