After joining Team Rubicon many years ago, I’ve been asked why I joined and, more importantly, what keeps me motivated to deploy to operations that can be long and notoriously difficult. The “why” is the easy part. As an Army Veteran, I had a really difficult time finding the level of comradery and common drive that my fellow servicemen and women shared. When I discovered TR, I instantly regained that sense of purpose and brotherhood that I held in such high esteem. On the other hand, the “what” has been much harder to communicate, that is until I met a very special family during Operation Magic Valley in Texas.
On a sweltering south Texas day, my wonderful strike team rolled up to a home that was affected by the flooding earlier this summer. As we pulled our gear from our truck, the homeowner, Rolando, rolled up his sleeves and was ready to work alongside our team. Later in the morning, he sat with us as we took a break from our labor. He explained that though he had homeowner’s insurance, he never procured flood insurance because his home had never even come close to flooding. When the rains in Mercedes, TX came in, he did everything he could to save the family’s belongings but was unable to save a majority of his young sons’ possessions. Though he was not worried about the loss of physical items, he was devastated by the fact that his home, now ridden with mold, was uninhabitable for his boys. Because of this, he had to make the hard decision to send them to live with relatives while he and his wife, Cruzita, worked hard to make their home livable again.
Our team did our best to muck out the home, taking care to ensure all traces of mold and hazards were removed. At the end of our long hard day, Cruzita gave me a big hug and thanked me for my hard work. She shared with me that her youngest son is on the autism spectrum and is struggling to adapt to his temporary living situation. As tears ran down both of our faces, the “what” became instantly apparent. As a mom of five, one of which has autism, I cannot imagine having to send them away to an unfamiliar home while I struggled to make my house a home again.
The stress of the situation has been unbearable for Cruzita and Rolando, but Team Rubicon provided a little light in their dark tunnel. Our team may not have been able to rebuild their home, but we were able to bring this family one step closer to being whole again. This is what keeps me coming back, ready to tackle any obstacles that disasters throw our way.