High water, no matter how damaging, cannot dampen the human spirit.

Emily D. Coppola

As a human, I can wholeheartedly say that humans are strange creatures. We are creatures of habit, we don’t like change and God forbid a television streaming service remove one of our favorite shows. This alone can send humans into a raging mob.

One of the most interesting things to me is the human mind. Further than the science of the human brain, which I have always been incredibly intrigued by, I’m interested in the human thought process. Specifically, the thought process that humans go through as they react to various situations.

I am continually blown away by the resilience of humans. When faced with a problem or opposition, humans, for the most part, tighten up their boot straps and continue fighting.

This tenacity, which I believe is ingrained into human nature, is shocking to me in the best way. I witnessed the definition of human tenacity while speaking with victims of the recent flooding in Richlands, Va.

The old saying goes that you don’t know how you’ll react in a situation until you’re in it. I’ve never experienced flooding in my personal life other than the laundry room in my house slightly flooding on my 10th birthday due to the washing machine, and I’m very grateful for this.

While this flood wasn’t as catastrophic as the McDowell County flooding of the early 2000s where multiples homes were quite literally swept away, this flood was certainly life-altering. As I spoke to victims and their families, the strangest thing happened. They weren’t broken down.

I expected to be met with tear-stained faces and shaking voices, but what I saw was tenacious people who were already working to rebuild. After high water had entered their homes and destroyed large amounts of their belongings, they didn’t shed a single tear while I was there.

Instead, they continually told me, “I have to keep living” and walked me through their steps to rebuild. They had extensive amounts of work ahead of them, that could take years to complete, but they didn’t give in to the stress.

Floors were ruined, drywall was demolished, furniture was destroyed, sensitive documents were wrecked and precious family photos were unsalvageable. Despite this, the people of Richlands showed their tenacity and pushed forward.

As I walked through the homes, unavoidably splashing through the puddles of mud in living rooms and kitchens, I was reminded of the verse Isaiah 43:2. This verse reads, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

While I know that the waters did, quite literally, overflow the people of Richlands, it didn’t overflow their spirits. This is a perfect example of how humans continually show their determination.

Though I heard the weariness in some voices and saw the strain in other’s eyes, I saw only people who wouldn’t give up. Further than that, I saw a community that banded together to help those in need.

Whether volunteers knew victims personally, lived near them or if they were complete strangers, those who stepped in to aid those in need did so for one reason — because it was the right thing to do.

This, I believe, shows the literal interpretation of the verse Matthew 22:39, which reads “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.” It also is a good example of the golden rule, which is actually a verse of biblical scripture, in action. The golden rule states, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Matthew 7:12 states, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” As you can see the golden rule has been a Bible verse in disguise this whole time.

During my time wading through the mud of the Richlands flood, I was humbled by the raw compassion I found there.

I was also greeted by kind and compassionate people who thanked me for talking to them and even offered me food. I can’t begin to explain how humbling that was to me.

If my soggy trip to Richlands did anything, it showed me what resilience was and that water, however terrifying it is to me, cannot kill the human spirit. 

Emily D. Coppola is a reporter at the Daily Telegraph, Contact her at ecoppola@bdtonline.com, Follow her at @BDTCoppola

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