Krystal stands on her dining room chair and watches the water rise around her home.
She holds her 3-year-old’s hand with one hand and clutches her 1-month-old baby to her chest with the other.
“Lady, if you don’t get in the boat now, we’re going to have to leave you to pick up someone else,” says a firefighter perched on a rescue boat.
So Krystal steps off the chair and into the boat. Her husband, Dwayne, wades inside their home to salvage possessions by placing them upstairs.
“We are allowed to take one personal item with us on the boat,” Dwayne says. “The most valuable things in my life are the people I just loaded onto that boat.”
American Red Cross vehicles and volunteers have been populating these pockets of Georgia, where a steady rain surged local creeks and rivers.
The water is gone, and so is most of the media that told the world to stop what they were doing and please help these flood victims.
Dwayne and Krystal receive bottled water, food and some clean-up supplies from the Red Cross. Their neighbors go to work tossing refrigerators, big-screen TVs and couches onto their front lawns.
But Dwayne and Krystal aren’t thinking about their home, which will need to be gutted. They are preoccupied with their youngest child, who has been failing hearing exams, and their 3-year-old, who was just diagnosed with asthma.
Dwayne and Krystal have been sleeping every night since the floods in a hotel room with their children, their dog, and Krystal’s parents.
They make a trip back to their home to meet with Red Cross volunteers.
Their house, from the outside, looks almost as it always has, save a water line neatly marking the highest point Sweetwater Creek hit.
Dwayne says the creek crested at 30 feet – exactly 10 times its normal depth.
Inside their home, soggy couches are flipped on top of family pictures. Ceilings are collapsing onto tables finely lined with the creek’s soot. A high-chair, which has never been used, still stands in the garage, where you can already see mold growing.
“This is our reality,” Dwayne says.
Dwayne and Krystal have lost everything – their home, their cars, most of their belongings.
But the couple remains astoundingly upbeat. They know that moving forward – on Day 10, Day 45, Day XX – they have their faith, their family and each other.
The media has moved on to new hot topics, which will run their course as well.
And as the media moves on, so do people elsewhere, and the floods in the Southeast become a distant memory.
But for the Mitchells, it is reality. And for the Red Cross, it is a priority.