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Tiny Spaces


As the whole world watched and wondered how Texas was going to fare after Harvey, many of the victims found that their world had been reduced in belongings, resources, job opportunities and size and/or space of their living quarters. For the Castillo family, 5 bodies in about 200 square feet presents some unique challenges. Considering that without the loan of a family RV, they would be homeless, this family could not be more grateful for their tiny space.
We met the Castillo family when we published a photograph of them being rescued by boat. With all they had been through, they were still gracious enough to allow me to come visit with them and agreed to allow The Post to follow them through the long journey of recovery that literally thousands of Texans will be making along with them over the weeks, months and possibly years to come.
The challenges are many and as we have seen, families in Dickinson and Santa Fe were hit in large numbers and catastrophically. While many of us lost a car, had to replace sheet rock in our homes, toss out clothing, personal items, furniture, and were forced to leave our homes temporarily, families like the Castillo’s, lost everything. That is a difficult concept to grasp. Everything you have worked for, all your memories, keepsakes, documents – gone. Then on top of the loss, you find you have been uprooted and what used to be routine has become close to impossible.
Erika realized first, that she would not be able to keep her job. Once they were able to replace their drowned cars, she became chauffeur taking her husband to and from work, her children to and from school, and in the meantime tracking down whatever assistance they might possibly be able to get – food, clothing, toiletries, and the list goes on. When I came out to visit with them in Santa Fe, she was trying to find a bed for her oldest. Darrell, her husband, had managed to acquire a motorcycle but it was having difficulties. They had found and bought a car and then found water in the trunk.
Still this was a family that was laughing and smiling, bragging on Darrell’s company, TEAM, Inc., and the kindness and standing shown them; sharing story after story of the kindness of so many others who were stepping up to help them. The children were all talkative, sharing their thoughts about the storm and what they lost; all with the resilience that children seem to muster around a crisis.
A news cycle is often indicative of our awareness of what is going on in the world. As is to be expected, one dramatic story will have its day and soon enough, it will be replaced by the next dramatic happening. Harvey was unparalleled in the devastation and havoc it wreaked. Nevertheless, here came Irma, closely followed by Maria and the limelight shifted. Just like Rita and Ike, Katrina and Andrew, recovery takes its toll and it takes its sweet time as well. Many displaced by Katrina will never return home. St. John in the Virgin Islands may be uninhabitable for years. Puerto Rico is an island completely without any power; without any forms of contemporary communication. As we follow the story of this one family as they struggle to put the pieces of their lives together, it is our hope that we will all remain aware of similar struggles going on across our country and our world. It is at such times as these that we must all dig deep and find new ways to help our neighbors, to recognize that we cannot possibly imagine the challenges facing far too many of us, and to move through our days with kindness, compassion and patience for those who are on a journey we cannot imagine.

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