When the Sheriff’s department knocked on their door at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the Lopez’s had no idea the water had gotten so high. It was so high, in fact, that it was up to their hips and above their 6-year-old’s head. With less than 20 minute’s notice, the Lopez’s had to leave their home and nearly all of their belongings, including their new mini-van. Rescuers swiftly lifted the children into a boat and secured their life vests as the couple waded out in the chilly water. They were immediately taken to a Red Cross shelter at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds and given warm blankets. All Anel and Leonel Lopez had left was comfort in knowing their four children, all under the age of 10, were safe.
“They’ve made us feel so comfortable and really help take care of the kids needs; they even make them laugh,” said Anel of the Red Cross shelter workers. “For me, that’s the most important thing that the kids get what they want.”
Anel said that the volunteers at the shelter made them so comfortable that the only thing her children were missing from home was their Christmas tree. The table full of games and toys in the shelter served as a nice distraction to everyone in the family though. Their 8-year-old son, also named Leonel, is unable to return to school due to the flood damage, but grateful for the extra quality time with his parents and siblings. The Red Cross volunteers called his dad’s employer after the flood to let them know he was safe, but couldn’t return to work because their van was trapped by the standing water still surrounding their home. Together, they spent much of the day challenging each other to matches of Trouble, a board game donated to the shelter by a local community member. In the true spirit of the holidays, the Lopez’s are counting their blessings and hoping when they are able to return home their Christmas tree is there to greet them.