ORANGE, Texas – The first words out of Cpt. Lane’s mouth were that some soldiers reported the flood water burned on contact. I was sitting behind him in the light medium tactical vehicle (LMTV), so I couldn’t tell if he was joking as we rode towards some of the most impoverished flooded areas in Orange, TX.
I jumped into the flood waters the moment unit Alpha 949 BSB of the Army National Guard stopped the convoy. I landed in brown water, clouds of silt blooming from my feet. The sun reflected in rainbows in thin layers of gasoline floating on top of the water. Someone warned me to be careful where I stepped; I slipped into a ditch inundated with water about half an hour later.
I had nudged and harassed everyone from the State Guard, to the Army National Guard for days in order to get an opportunity to embed in Texas, calling and recalling people who were busy trying to get a state back on its feet after a natural disaster.
It was exasperating, rewarding, nerve-wracking, exciting and any other word that encapsulates the breadth of human emotion.
However, at no moment did the experience weigh heavier on me than when someone would say, “Thank you for telling my story.”
I would gladly jump in flood waters, sleep in my car, not sleep at all if it means experiencing important moments and telling the story. Hearing someone thank me for listening to their experiences, however, made me feel like a journalist.